The Inventions of Schizophrenia

Daniel Mason
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 5:30pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


This talk will look at the history of the schizophrenia diagnosis, from the mysterious absence of the illness in medical literature prior to the 19th century, through its “discovery” at the turn of the 20th, to current conceptualizations. Within this context, I will talk about the special history of “psychotic art”, and the role that the artistic work of patients in mental asylums might have played in the creation of the diagnosis as we know it today.


Daniel Mason, MD is a PGY-3 Resident in Psychiatry at Stanford, and author of the novels The Piano Tuner and A Far Country. His most recent non-fi ction has focused on the roots of medical and psychiatric practice, including the history of pica and the magical beginnings of psychiatry. He is currently at work on a novel set at an asylum in 1920s Vienna. His piece on pica can be found at His piece on magic at