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Neurology & the Mind at the Turn of the Century

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Abstract:

Trends in thought about consciousness, the mind, and the brain at the turn of the century were surprisingly similar to major trends in thinking about these topics today. For instance, some psychiatrists as well as physiologists considered all actions of the human mind, as well as all behaviours, entirely the product of the electrochemical actions of nerve cells, while others emphasized the importance of consciousness, free will, and even the soul. The action of nerve cells, and thus the brain itself, was understood largely in terms of electrical activity, energy, and resistances, all leading to views of mental health and pathology based on energy and the loss of energy. Modern metaphors for understanding the brain, and along with them mental health and illness, emphasize information processing and neurochemistry. Such differences are reflected in the differences between typical treatments at the turn of the century and today.

Keywords: Carl Wernicke; Charles Darwin; Henri Bergson; John Hughlings Jackson; Max Nordau; Paul Broca; WilliamJames; brain; consciousness; degeneration; health; illness; metaphors; nerve cells; neurasthenia; neurons; turn of the century

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: California Institute of Integral Studies, Email: ACombs@ciis.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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