Edward Shorter, Ph.D., author of How Everyone Became Depressed (Oxford 2013), is a social historian of medicine at the University of Toronto who has published histories of obstetrics and gynecology (Women’s Bodies), the doctor-patient relationship (Doctors and Their Patients), psychosomatic illness (From Paralysis to Fatigue), and sexuality (Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire). In 1991 he was appointed to the Faculty of Medicine as the Jason A. Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine. Since then Shorter has emerged as an internationally recognized historian of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. His publications in this evolving field include A History of Psychiatry; A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry; and Before Prozac. In addition, his recent work includes Partnership for Excellence: Medicine at the University of Toronto and Academic Hospitals, a major history of the Faculty and its hospital affiliates (University of Toronto Press).
Depression is a real and serious illness, especially in its melancholic form. But most people diagnosed with "major depression" today don't have it. They're anxious, fatigued, unable to sleep, and obsessed with their symptoms. In the 19th century these patients were called "nervous." But under the influence of Freud, nervous illness was shifted from neurology to psychiatry, spotlighting the mind and ignoring the rest of the body. The result has been a scientific disaster, resulting in the misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment of millions.