Laura D Hirshbein, Smoking Privileges: Psychiatry, the Mentally Ill, and the Tobacco Industry in America, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ, 2015; 9780813563961, $31 (pbk)

Lucas Richert

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


In the USA, cigarettes have provoked numerous questions about scientific authority, public health, corporate malfeasance, and the construction of medical knowledge. In Laura D. Hirshbein’s significant new monograph, Smoking Privileges, readers are exposed to the intriguingly hazy history of tobacco use in mental health. The ‘relationships between tobacco-related disorders and serious mental illness’, she argues, ‘need to be worked out in the big picture of mental health policy’ (p. 144). This book is a substantial start. Hirshbein sets her book against the backdrop of post-war American psychiatry, a time when psychoanalysis was in a full-blown battle with the proponents of biological psychiatry, when social psychiatry was contested, when deinstitutionalization reconstituted traditional mental health services and when breakthroughs in psychopharmacological research reshaped treatments. Running parallel to these developments was the escalation of the tobacco-control movement in the 1960s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-384
Number of pages2
JournalHistory of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date4 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • tobacco
  • mental health
  • psychiatry

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