Anne Harrington

Anne Harrington is Harvard College Professor and Professor for the History of Science, specializing in the history of psychiatry, neuroscience, and the other mind and behavioral sciences. She was my college professor for a seminar entitled “Evolution and the Mind” (History of Science 176), and I last saw her when she spoke at the Being Human conference in San Francisco on March 24, 2012, along with my friend [[Laurie Santos]]. She gave a very interesting presentation on epidemics of hysteria/schizophrenia-like female illnesses and their treatments at different places and times in history, with the conclusion that there’s an inbuilt human mechanism for hard-wired healing mechanisms to be activated by medical treatment rituals and medicines in whatever form (e.g. pills) is dictated by the set of social norms governing a given society.

From her Being Human profile: “She is currently working on a new general audience book that uses small-scale historical narrative—intimate human stories across time—to help people make sense of the big-scale issues that define modern psychiatry, broadly understood. Other research interests include the history of the neurological case history, and especially changing interests in the ‘inner world’ of brain disorder; and the origins and larger significance of current visions of partnership between Buddhism and science.

” According to her Harvard website, she’s working on a new book called When Minds Fall Ill.

Books: Medicine, Mind and the Double Brain (1987); Reenchanted Science (1997); The Cure Within; A History of Mind-Body Medicine (2007).

Edited collections: The Placebo Effect (1997);Visions of Compassion (2000); The Dalai Lama at MIT (2006).