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Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  6,343 ratings  ·  226 reviews
In this classic account of madness, Michel Foucault demonstrates why his position as one of the most distinguished of European philosophers since the end of World War II is beyond doubt; his influence dominates contemporary thinking. Madness and Civilization is Foucault's first major text and is seminal to the study of his work, since his other books expand on themes estab ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 28th 1988 by Vintage (first published 1961)
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AC
UPDATE:
I realize now (as I read Dreyfus and Rabinow) that I completely misread this book. I read it too quickly, and the book is maddeningly eccentric and so difficult to comprehend. Further, I read it without sufficient context either of this book itself, or of Foucault's corpus, or of the philosophical background in which or against which MF is operating. The problem is intensified by the fact that Foucault is one of those thinkers who changed his mind extensively from first to last on importa
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Mamdouh Abdullah
أفضل من يملك تعريف عن فوكو هو فوكو نفسه عندما قال: أنا عاهل الأشياء التي قلتها وأحتفظ بسلطة رهيبة عليها: سلطة قصيدتي, وسلطة المعنى الذي أردت إعطاءها إياه. لست فيلسوفاً ولا مؤرخاً. أنا صانع أسهم نارية. أصنع شيئاً صالحاً في النهاية لضرب حصار, لشن حرب, للقيام بعمل تخريبي, لكنني أدافع عن إمكانية العبور, عن إمكانية التقدم, عن إمكانية إسقاط الجدران. إن صانع الأسهم النارية هو جيولوجي أولاً, أي عالم بطبقات الأرض. يتأمل طبقات الأرض وثناياها وصدوعها. ما الذي يسهُل حفره؟ ما الذي سيصمد؟ ينظر إلى القلاع كيف ...more
Andrew
I must admit, I didn't read this entire book. However, I do feel I read enough of it to get the general idea. Foucault is trying to distance himself from history here. He dislikes the "victorious" narrative of history and instead seeks to build an anthropology based around one aspect of the human sciences, employing the method of "archaeology." Borrowing Nietzsche's genealogy approach, Foucault excavates various uses of confinement or separation of the "madman" overtime, and looks at shifts and ...more
Fahima Jaffar
كم مرّةً وصمتُ كاتباً/عملاً ما بالجنون، ذلكَ الحسُّ المختلِفُ المفارِقُ الغريبُ الساحر، القدرةُ على الخروجِ من الصندوقِ وَقلبه بمن/ما فيه. إن كنتُ أفرطتُ في إسباغِ هذه السمةِ حتى استهلكتها على كثيرٍ من قراءاتي السابقة، فعليَّ إمّا مراجعةُ تلكَ القائمة المستطيلة أو تعيين سمةٍ جديدةٍ لـ فوكو. على كل حال، سأحجم عن إطلاقِ "سمةِ" الجنون عليه لأنَّ اختلافه – وإن بدا متطرفاً قصداً – فهو لا ينشدُ الاختلاف لذاته. بل يقرأُ فيه وجه الحقيقة – لنقل أوجهها – وَيجدُ في انفصامِ الأحداثِ وَتفككها تجلّي المعرفةِ ...more
Trevor
Philosophy for Foucault is a discourse, I guess a series of texts that cluster around a single topic and have a meaning as much based on their history as their current ‘meaning’. It is too easy to get tangled in knots with words here – but this book is actually quite a simple read and incredibly interesting.

There is the bit that is often quoted - the idea that hysteria was once considered to be a woman’s madness caused by her womb wandering around her body and thereby causing mental problems. I
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طاهر الزهراني
كتاب عظيم، يتحدث عن تاريخ الجنون في فرنسا ودول أوروبا، لا يكتفي بالجنون فقط بل وما درج تحته من أمراض، وليس فقط سرد تاريخي، وإنما قراءة تفصيلية عن نفسيات وخطابات دينية وسياسية وفكرية، كتب بمسحة أدبية مذهلة جدا، الكتاب مرعب، ويرصد حقائق ودراسات مهمة، أعجبني في نهاية الكتاب التعريج حول الفن والجنون
Samara Nouri
عمل نظري أكاديمي بحت تناول أندفاع الجسد والروح وتخطيهما لحدود المعقول والمستقيم والعيش داخل عوالم اللاعقل التي لاتعترف بأية حدود.

ركاب "سفينة الحمقى" هم شخصيات مجردة، أنواع أخلاقية كالجشع والحساس والملحد والمتعجرف .. وضعوا بالقوة ضمن الركاب الحمقى في رحلة أبحار بلا ميناء.

أنتشرت في جميع أوربا دور لحجز مرضى الجذام بشكل واسع في القرن الخامس عشر.
ثم تحولت الى دور رعاية لأيواء الفقراء والمشردين والعاطلين والعجزة والمرضى بالأخص الأمراض التناسلية التي كانت قد بدأت تنتشر انتشارآ كبيرآ في القرن السادس عشر.
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Kate
It took me almost two months to finish this behemoth, but it was worth it. Two months ago, I was reading an article in the New York Times on modern Catholicism that mentioned Foucault, and from there I read a brief overview on Wikipedia. There I found a reference to the History of Madness, Foucault's doctoral thesis, and since I'm interested in insanity, asylums and so forth, I checked this one out of the library.

I'm not going to lie, this is a dense tome. I read it in 5-20 page increments, most
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Richard
It is said that Foucault enjoyed being whipped.
Steve
I was a double major in psychology and English as an undergraduate, with a minor in philosophy. When I graduated in January of 1998, I hadn't yet heard about whether I'd been admitted to graduate school and couldn't find a job teaching English, my back-up plan. I decided to turn my philosophy minor into a major, as I already had more courses than required for a minor and was only 4 away. It so happened that I was missing were mostly already determined: (1) history of ancient philosophy, (2) clas ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 12, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: James Koehnline
Shelves: psychology
By sophomore year in college I was beginning to think of becoming a psychotherapist and actually held two jobs at a psychiatric hospital during the year following, one setting up a treatment assessment program, the other administrating and evaluating diagnostic tests such as the MMPI. Then, later, back at Grinnell, I was trained in drug counseling a worked in the school's crisis center as well as in its draft counseling office. My real interest was in continental depth psychology, but the jobs a ...more
أسيل
روح المجانين ليست مجنونة!
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
arrgghhh...

ya ampun... satu hal yang membuat sebal baca buku filsafat adalah saling berjejalnya kata-kata "langit" bak dewata yang susah dimengerti "makhluk-makhluk berotak terestial" seperti saia dalam bukunya, fuih... T_T

banyak yang berpendapat filsafat itu sulit dan tidak menarik. tapi menururt saia, bukan karena "isi"nya saja yang rumit, penggunaan bahasa-bahasa "dewata" ituh justru malah meperparah filsafat untuk mudah dimengerti, yang ujung-ujungnya membuat kebanyakan orang keder baca buku
...more
Jessica
Sep 06, 2008 Jessica marked it as aborted-efforts
Recommends it for: crazy smart people; smart, crazy people
Recommended to Jessica by: crazy people; smart people (quelle est la différence?)
A last question remains: In the name of what can this fundamental language be regarded as a delirium? Granting that it is the truth of madness, what makes it true madness and the originating form of insanity? Why should it be in this discourse, whose forms we have seen to be so faithful to the rules of reason, that we find all those signs which will most manifestly declare the very absence of reason?

A central question, but one to which the classical age has not formulated a direct answer. We mus
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Michael Burnam-fink
Madness and Civilization explores two major canonical events in the transition from medieval to modern social structures. The first is the differentiation of criminals, paupers, and the insane. The second is the relationship between the insane and the agency responsible for treating them. However, in typical Foucaultian style the book elliptically skips around these main topics, instead focusing on 18th century nosgraphies between hysteria and mania and melancholia, and the various humoral theor ...more
Derek Frasure
This book is stylistically similar to the History of Sexuality vols. 2 and 3. It is standard fare Foucault, which is to say that you can expect much ado about entrenched power dynamics in institutions, and how changes to those institutions tend to serve and further power. There is quite a bit of history in here from primary documents that detail the changing perceptions and treatments of madness before modernity. The book looks at these documents and deconstructs them in-depth for much of the bo ...more
Don Rea
So far I'm about fifty or sixty pages in, and I've completely lost track of what this gibbering madman is raving about. Perhaps this is a poor translation, but after the first ten pages even individual sentences are meaningless and syntactically ambiguous. I re-read paragraphs, sometimes ten or twelve times, but I simply can't make any of this make any sense. I'll slog through for a couple more chapters to see if it gets any better, but I don't have much hope for this basket of word salad.
Malini Sridharan
If foucault were alive today, I would comfort him in his old age whether he liked it or not.
Iso Cambia
Pascal: "Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness." (ix)

If folly leads each man into a blindness where he is lost, the madman, on the contrary, reminds each man of his truth; in a comedywhere each man deceives the other and dupes himself, the madman is comedy to the second degree: the deception of deception; he utters, in his simpleton's language which makes no show of reason, the words of reason that release, in the comic, the comedy: he speaks love
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DeAnne
While it is not possible to give a precis of Foucault, I'll take a running jump at it. Madness and Civilization takes an historical view of unreason, madness, passion, and the societies that create, enable, produce or punish them.

Foucault begins with the decrease in leprosy, and the rise of the Ships of Fools, his premise being that without lepers to kick around (er...as it were), madmen became the new scapegoats. Towns would load their insane onto the boats and send them crossing the ocean; an
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Oliver Bateman
This brilliant book, which traces the shifting European "discourse systems" about madness from the late Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century, describes the process by which measures dealing with the insane shifted from exposure (as on the "ship of fools," if such things actually existed, or by wandering the countryside) to confinement (alongside the idle poor in "hospitals" and "charity wards") to paternalistic "medical" care (by doctors who, upon realizing that there were no curative tech ...more
hayatem
عليك ان تسقط في الهاوية لتدرك مدى جحيم العودة إلى الأرض مرة أخرى.
فوكو عانى من شرارة الجنون والتشرذم في الملاجئ(دور الحجز) فأتى هذا الكتاب كثمرة مضنية تمثل شكل الجحيم الذي يعانيه الإنسان لإستعادة ذاته من
جديد وسط جماهير غفيرة لاترحم، بل موشومة بلسان لاذع وسليط وجاهز للتصنيف والتأطير المعلب والمفرغ من دماثة الرحمة.
الكتاب ملحمة فكرية فلسفية طبية ونفسية بحته لاتسع السطور لوصف جهد الكاتب في الإنعتاق من سلطة الجنون في هذا العصر.
العصر الكلاسيكي امتاز بالقسوة على الإنسان الضعيف والمغلوب ، الذي لسوء حظه
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Nathaniel Gallegos
A fascinating and deep book about a difficult and relatively obscure subject. What most intrigued and interested me about it was the treatment and analysis of a cultural development that has seemingly not garnered any study or serious analysis to date. It is often interesting to see gifted men and women apply their talents to the dark zones of human reason and apply an analytic to profound and culturally relevant developments in the course of civilization that have taken place largely unnoticed. ...more
Feijiao Huo
Thinking about there's just a fine line between a madman and genius...
Maybe the only difference is the number of their fans. Genius significantly has more fans than madmen. Their fans follow them all way, while most mad men die lonely with a single story failed to leave. That's why Focau study madmen and then conclude something about politic and power. We all know many historical figures are like madmen. Then the question goes to how the madman write their own history.
If we focus too much on hu
...more
Valerie
L'Histoire de la folie, est un recueil assez complet d'informations sur l'évolution de la place de la folie dans la société occidentale. Il est passionnant de noter que des mots que nous utilisons tous les jours sont partis de sens complètement erronés qu'on donnait à la folie. Ainsi le vocabulaire et le langage ne cessent de trahir cette expérience. Foucault donne beaucoup de renseignements historiques ce qui fait que si l'on n'est pas historien la lecture de ce livre peut être parfois un peu e ...more
Cameron
This book is full of interesting ideas buried in some of the densest, most obtuse prose I have ever encountered. Foucault writes about the history of the treatment of the insane, particularly in Europe, and how mental illness has been viewed in culture. Drawing heavily on French history, he makes the case that mental illness was viewed as shameful and a sign of moral degradation, so mentally ill people were no longer considered human, but were punished for being "mad". He goes into a fairly deta ...more
Michele
Foucault outlines the evolution of society's definition, views, and treatments of madness from the middle ages to the 18th century. This sounds super interesting, but I found it took me a long time to get through all the specific names and cases Foucault uses and often had to puzzle out the "bigger picture" for myself to keep myself engaged with the text.

As Deleuze points out, the major fault of Foucault's work is that it doesn't bridge to the 20th and 21st century very easily. I was hoping to
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Florence
Madness in the 17th century was not easily defined. There was no distinction between insanity and other conditions for the imposition of confinement. Prisoners of the Hopital General were institutionalized because of poverty, inability to work, infidelity, religion, and ethical values. The definition & the many horrible treatments for hypochondria & hysteria vary throughout the centuries: Blood transfusions, bleedings, purges, cold water treatments, powdered lobster claw, baths, showers, ...more
Matthew Leroy
This book explores the history of madness and the care, or lack thereof of people who are mad. Throughout the book Foucault discusses the complicated factors that underline madness, and the social construction that occurred, which places madness as a category itself. Overall, I loved it. Some of it was a bit challenging to understand, and I would love to discuss this book with anyone who feels a stronger expertise in philosophy or in Foucault's works. My favorite chapter was the one focused on t ...more
Adrian Astur Alvarez
I'm reading Foucault without any other guidance than his bibliographic chronology so of course this means I'm completely missing out on a lot of his subtle points and inferences. I still found this book interesting and articulate. The larger idea of madness being increasingly put under the microscope of rationality only to reveal, chillingly, that it was rational man's obsessive search for his own image being sought in the madness is a mind blower. Although abstruse, Foucault has such a knack fo ...more
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four stages 1 11 Mar 05, 2014 04:23PM  
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  • Literature and Evil
  • The Human Condition
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Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and lectured at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences and the prison sys
...more
More about Michel Foucault...
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language The History of Sexuality 2: The Use of Pleasure

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“People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.” 490 likes
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