Psychiatry's First Patients: Adolf Meyer and the Founding of American Psychiatry


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Medicine


Adolf Meyer is generally recognized as the foremost influence on American psychiatry and yet scholarly studies about his life, theories, and practices are notably sparse. This research both substantiates and challenges speculation about Meyer and the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, an institution that he designed and operated at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for over three decades. More importantly, this study explores terra incognita: the patients who used this pivotal institution. This work elucidates for the first time the working principles of Meyerian psychiatry by exploring the avenues by which patients arrived at the clinic, Meyer’s diagnostic procedures, treatment for various psychiatric disorders, and the decision-making processes of families confronting mental illness.