7th out of 11 books — 2 voters
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Madness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #279)
Madness is something that frightens and fascinates us all. It is a word with which we are universally familiar, and a condition that haunts the human imagination. In this Very Short Introduction, Andrew Scull provides a provocative and entertaining examination of the social, cultural, medical, and artistic responses to mental disturbance across more than two millennia, con ...more
Paperback, 134 pages
Published September 2nd 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published August 25th 2011)
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More of a sociohistorical overview than I expected, and certainly one of the more openly opinionated entries I've read in the Very Short Introduction series. Not a bad book, by any stretch, but not as good as I had hoped it would be, likely for the reasons mentioned above.
This should perhaps be titled “The History of Madness – A very Short Introduction” as Andrew Scull concentrates on the treatment of the mad throughout history rather than discussing in any depth what madness is. As a History it is very informative, from an excess of black bile, to asylums, psychoanalysis, and big pharma, Scull tells to the story of how they all evolved and how their rising stars have all fallen. Never less than skeptical about any of the mechanisms for helping the mentally ill, ...more
I consider the title of this misleading. The other "very short introduction" titles I have read so far (Quantum mechanics & magnetism) did not suffer from this. Instead of talking about madness itself the author seems to have wanted to write about the failings of Psychiatry and Psycho-pharmacology. I was looking for an examination of mental illness and instead got a heap of vitriol and scorn against two very recent features in a subject with a long history.
I really enjoyed this book but I was expecting more of an overview of how madness works, both as a biological and as a psychoanalytical condition. Instead, this book is about the history of psychological treatment. I learned how afflicted people were locked up, the way methodology adapted and evolved, the slow dissolution of the insane asylum, and the chilling future of pharmaceutical interest in treatment. There's very little on what madness is or how it works. Still, the subject matter is unde ...more
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