Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors
“[A work of] wit, wisdom and richness. . . . A grand tour of derangement, from matricide to anorexia.” —John Leonard, Harper’s
This fascinating history of mind doctors and their patients probes the ways in which madness, badness, and sadness have been understood over the last two centuries. Lisa Appignanesi charts a story from the days when the mad were considered possess
Appignanesi’s account takes in obscure and well-known patients and their doctors. It both affirms c...more
As the book progressed, I felt concerned that the 'mental health biographies' of modern figures were almost salacious: I felt this most strongly with the passages concerning Sylvia Plath and Marilyn Monroe. I also felt uncomfortable with some aspects of Appignanesi's conclusions (where modern medication and therapies do more to create...more
The narrative goes on in a more-or-less chronological manner, starting from the late 18th century and traversing the main countries (Britain, France, Austria, USA) in which psychiatry started to evolve. It starts from the atrocious conditions in European asylums and Pinel's icon...more
It’s a riveting book though, once you start to read it in a serious way, setting out to describe the relationship between psychiatry and women over the last 200 years, from 1800s onwards, looking at women like Sabina Spielrein, Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and more.
It's a heavy heavy...more
I read Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation about a year ago and was hoping this would be the same type of book. I was looking for information on how the mental health profession has developed and the role women patients played in it.
This book might have gotten there, but I couldn't get my brain where it needed to be to really sit down with the material and read.
Sadly, there was just too much of a Textbook Effect at work for me to make through the final third. The sheer density of the material ultimately defeated me, and when I found myself skimming entire chapters...more
But it is dense; a very heavy read that would have been more enjoyable had I not had four other things to read on top of it.
Elżbieta Borensztejn was born on 4 January 1946 in Łódź, Poland, the daughter of Hena and Aaron Borensztejn with Jewish origin. Following her birth, her parents moved to Paris, France, and in 1951 they emigrating to Canada. She grew up in the province of Quebec - first in a small Laurentian town, subsequently in Montreal.
She graduated from McGill University with a B.A. degree in 19...more