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Book Forum: Mind/Brain   |    
Masters of the Mind: Exploring the Story of Mental Illness From Ancient Times to the New Millennium
JOEL YAGER, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:407-a-408. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.2.407-a
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By Theodore Millon, Ph.D., D.Sc. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2004, 641 pp., $34.95.

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In this great gift of a book Theodore Millon, Emeritus Professor at both Harvard Medical School and the University of Miami and one of the most eminent and prolific scholars in the field of personality and personality disorders today, has give us an intellectual travelogue that is both a tour de force and a labor of love.

A time map at the beginning of this ambitious volume lays out the journeys to be undertaken, tracking several streams of thought. These include philosophical themes starting with early primitive sacred Asian, Middle Eastern, and ancient Greek ideas and advancing through the major 20th-century philosophers. There are also humanitarian themes, including "third wave" and existential schools, beginning with Vives and Weyer in the 16th century and going up through Rogers, Maslow, and May to Yalom in the 21st. Other tracks include neurosciences, from Paracelsus through Kandel and Snyder; sociocultural ideas, from Hegel and Weber through Goffman, Minuchin, Haley, Benjamin, and Keisler; "psychoscience" developments from Fechner, Galton, and Wundt through Miller, Chomsky, Bandura, Beck, Ellis, and Kohlberg; psychoanalytic thinking from Freud through Kohut and Kernberg; and "personalogic" themes, from James through Millon, Cloninger, Wachtel, Gardner, Sternberg, and Linehan—among others. These broad themes are cross-cut by other dominating stories: the development of scientific thinking; asylums and the appreciation for human potential; classification of psychiatric disorders; brain science; studies of consciousness; and studies of thought, cognition, behavior, interpersonal relations, evolutionary theory, human adaptation, and more.

Literally hundreds of contributors through the ages are briefly showcased through mini-biographies and concise encapsulation of their legacies, and their major ideas are put into historical and intellectual context. You really come away with the sense that you’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants, and these individuals now have more of a human face and flavor.

We can only wish Dr. Millon many more years of fertile productivity. I personally hope that the next edition will continue to extend the "maps" and incorporate some of the late 20th century’s major contributors such as Edelman, Damasio, and others who did not make it into this magnificent work. That aside, this book begs to be used in far-ranging survey courses on the history of psychiatry or psychology, and it can be profitably read by anyone interested in visiting or revisiting the rich scholarly traditions of these professions.

A final note: one confirmation of its being a "labor of love" is the fact that the book is richly illustrated with scores of portraits of the luminaries it describes. The large majority of these portraits were actually created by Millon himself, clearly a graphic artist of considerable ability, with some contributions by one of his daughters, Carrie Millon. That’s really something.

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