Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind


by George Makari, M.D., Cornell-Weill Medical Center


Wednesday, May 30th, 2018, @1:25 pm - 2:15 pm     



In Soul Machine, the author argues that the origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about the nature of human inner life, coincided with the birth to a new concept―the mind. That mind emerged as a potential solution to political as well as scientific and medical problems, and emerged as a hybrid, part soul and part machine but fully neither. The author will examine how writers, philosophers, doctors, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one. Conducted in a cauldron of political turmoil, their efforts spanned 150 years and would underwrite the birth of the mind sciences, liberal politics, secular ethics, and radically new visions of the self.


Learning Point:

At the end of this educational activity, its participants will be able to:

1) analyze the development of the modern conception of the mind in the interaction between Descartes and other philosophers;

2) discuss how an alternative to the religious conception of the soul emerged in the possibility of a mind with intention;

3) analyze the impact of medical community reconceiving mental illness as the illness of the reason/ mind rather than the consequence of a bodily illness.



Boardman, S., & Makari, G.J. (2007). The lunatic asylum on Blackwell's Island and the New York press.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(4), 581.  

Hoseini, A.S., Razaghi, N., Khosro Panah, A.H., & Nayeri, D. (2017). A concept analysis of spiritual health. Journal of Religion and Health. Retrieved from doi: 10.1007/s10943-017-0522-x.

Makari, G.J. (1997). Dora's hysteria and the maturation of Sigmund Freud's transference theory: A new historical interpretationJournal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45(4), 1061-1096.  

Makari, G.J. (1998). The seductions of history: Sexual trauma in Freud's theory and historiographyInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis, 79(5), 857-869.  

Makari, G.J. (2008). Revolution in mind: On the history of psychoanalysis, 1870-1945. NY, NY: Harper Collins.  

Makari, G.J. (2009). On the shifting boundaries of medicine. Lancet, 373(9659), 206-207.

Makari, G.J. (2015). Soul machine: The invention of the modern mind. NY, NY: Norton. 

Paulson, S., Berlin, H.A., Ginot, E., & Makari, G. J. (2017). Delving within: The new science of the unconsciousAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1406(1), 12-27. 

Sacks, A., & Makari, G.J. (2009). Freud in the new world.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(6), 662-663.  

Tallis, R. (November 7, 2015). The Knot in the Universe: A Review of Soul Machine. The Wall Street Journal.


Bio of the Presenter:

George Jack Makari, M.D. is a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the De Witt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine.  He teaches and publishes on the history and theory of psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He earned his medical degree from Cornell University, and completed his psychoanalytic training at Columbia University. He is the Author of  Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis and Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind. In addition to his academic responsibilities, he maintains an active faculty practice.


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