Was Silas Weir Mitchell really a psychiatrist?

Aya Biderman, Joseph Herman

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Silas WeirMitchell was held by many of his contemporaries in the United States, Great Britain and on the continent of Europe to be the greatest medical scientist in the Western Hemisphere. He is considered the founding father of American neurology and made important contributions in the fields of basic science and the delineation of diseases. He was also a best-selling novelist and a public figure of stature. According to Wilder Penfield, the eminent Canadian neurosurgeon, Mitchell was, for the last three decades of the 19th century, the outstanding psychiatrist in the United States. We examine some aspects of this claim by reviewing briefly what psychiatrists did in Mitchell's day, the role played by neurologists in the treatment of the neuroses and his own particular psychiatric interests. We conclude that, contrary to Penfield's contention, Mitchell never really practiced psychiatry beyond what any generalist of today would consider as being within his or her scope. He was, however, a mentor to the psychiatrists of his time.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-35
    Number of pages7
    JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


    Dive into the research topics of 'Was Silas Weir Mitchell really a psychiatrist?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this