David J. Rothman is Bernard Schoenberg Professor of Social Medicine and History at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and president of the Institute on Medicine as a Professor.

IN THE REVIEW

Under Lock & Key: How Long?

Olivia de Havilland and Betsy Blair as inmates at a mental hospital in The Snake Pit, 1948
Although few people are satisfied with the quality of mental health services in the US, it is still startling to find physicians and psychiatrists enthusiastically calling for a return to asylums. One might think that the grim history of confinement would have precluded such advocacy. Whether in popular imagination (think …

The Organ Market

The body part that accounts for most sales of organs throughout the world is the kidney. As entire populations have become older, the number of patients with kidney disease that can lead to death has dramatically increased. Dialysis machines extend the lives of many of them. But some patients for …

The Shame of Medical Research

Until the 1990s American medical researchers performed most of their experiments on other Americans—frequently choosing subjects who were poor and vulnerable. Now, however, they are increasingly likely to conduct their investigations in third world countries on subjects who are even poorer and more vulnerable. Part of the reason is AIDS—the …

The International Organ Traffic

Over the past fifteen years, transplanting human organs has become a standard and remarkably successful medical procedure, giving new life to thousands of people with failing hearts, kidneys, livers, and lungs. But very few countries have sufficient organs to meet patients’ needs. In the United States, for example, some 50,000 …