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, 8 (29 pt 1), 61-81

The Origins of Psychosurgery: Shaw, Burckhardt and Moniz


The Origins of Psychosurgery: Shaw, Burckhardt and Moniz

G E Berrios. Hist Psychiatry.


The concepts and techniques involved in the origins of psychosurgery during the late nineteenth century are analyzed, particularly in the work of Claye Shaw and Gottlieb Burckhardt. It is shown that their views and therapeutic behaviour were guided by scientific, ethical and social warrants not dissimilar from those of today. The debate that followed their work can thus be considered as a trial run to that elicited by the work of Moniz. This paper focuses on the work of Shaw, Cripps, Tuke and Duncan for, until now, it has not featured in any history of psychosurgery. From the point of view of the history of science, their work is important, for it relates to the debate on brain localization, neuronal circuits and the neurobiological representation of mental illness that took place at the dawn of the twentieth century. Nothing is said on the history of psychosurgery subsequent to the work of Moniz.

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