Shock Therapy Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

Shock Therapy

Edward Shorter, American-born, who earned his PhD at Harvard is a renowned scholar and author. His plethora of books include the classic work A History of Women’s Bodies (Basic), A History of Psychiatry from the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac (Wiley) a new works, The Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry (Oxford University Press), and Written In The Flesh: The History of Desire (University of Toronto Press.) He is a professor of history at the University of Toronto.

David Healy, who studied in University College Dublin, and the University of Cambridge, England, is currently a Professor of Psychological Medicine in Cardiff University, Wales, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto. He is the author of 15 books, including The Antidepressant Era, and The Creation of Psychopharmacology from Harvard University Press, The Psychopharmacologists Volumes 1-3, and Let Them Eat Prozac from New York University Press.

Rutgers University Press 2007
University of Toronto Press Can 2007

Shock Therapy

A History of Electroconvulsive Treatment in Mental Illness

Edward Shorter and David Healy

The electroshock story is one of the great unknown stories of modern medicine. Considered by many to be the penicillin for the severely mentally ill, it fell out favor in the 1960s for curious, cultural reasons. Only recently is it experiencing a comeback.

This book is appealing on three levels. It is a lively and evocative social history from the 1930s to today, including recent experiments in Deep Brain Stimulation.  It is illuminating on the science of the brain in mental illness. And it is a work of advocacy which will influence the thinking about shock therapy.

One of the most interesting aspects in the history of medicine and culture is how and why such an effective treatment fell out of favor when there was nothing substantially better to replace it.

Shock Therapy is still controversial. This book by two leading authors will be a major contribution to ameliorating the stigma that has been attached to it.

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