J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 1996 Mar;184(3):146-52
The influence that paradigms may exert on scientific research programs is well established. The effect of organizing cognitive models on the writing of disciplinary histories, however, is less familiar although equally decisive. This essay explores the effects of ideological and paradigmatic factors on the construction of historical accounts of psychological medicine. Particular attention is paid to the scholarly case study of psychoanalysis, which for half a century determined the theories, themes, and figures discussed in psychiatric historiography, as well as the interpretations of these subjects. The author observes similar examples of the paradigmatic structuring of psychiatric history writing before and after the psychoanalytic era and speculates on whether it will ever be possible for psychiatry to achieve a single, stable, and consensual historical narrative about itself.