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Psychiatry and the Social Sciences, 1940–2009


  • Andrew Scull


This paper examines the changing relationship between psychiatry and three major social sciences, psychology, sociology, and economics, in the period between the outbreak of the Second World War and the end of the twentieth century. That interaction varied across the different disciplines and over time. The most sustained impact was on the discipline of psychology, where size and the shape of the discipline were radically transformed, beginning with the mental health crisis of the war years. In sociology, the initial cooperation with psychiatry that marked the late 1940s and 1950s was soon transformed into an adversarial relationship, before the two disciplines largely went their separate ways, beginning in the mid-1980s. At about the same time, mental health economics began to emerge as a subspecialty, though, for reasons the article explores, it has remained a marginal enterprise in the eyes of most professional economists.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Scull, 2010. "Psychiatry and the Social Sciences, 1940–2009," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 42(5), pages 25-52, Supplemen.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:42:y:2010:i:5:p:25-52

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