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Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  529 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Part of a Growing International Movement to Change the Face of Mental Illness.

Is madness purely a medical condition that can be treated with drugs? Is there really a clear dividing line between mental health and mental illness - or is it not so easy to classify who is sane and who is insane?

In Madness Explained leading clinical psychologist Richard Bentall shatters the mo
Paperback, 656 pages
Published April 29th 2004 by Penguin (first published June 5th 2003)
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Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would have given this book four and a half stars were I able.

In any case, I found Bentall's book very accessible from a non-specialist's point of view. Throughout, he argues that Emil Kraepelin's foundational schema for classifying madness (into manic depressive and dementia praecox) is fraught with a number of problems and should be abandoned. In its place, psychiatrists should take a symptom-oriented approach. Rather than diagnosing a patient with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, psychiatr
Aurélien Thomas
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-illness
Is madness really what we think it is? The whole psychiatric industry relies upon the Kraepelian paradigm, whereas there is a well-defined variety of mental illnesses, clearly clear-cut from mental health, each with their own set of symptoms that, eh oh!, specific pills can address like we address a cold or a flu. Isn't it wonderful? Well, such simplistic view surely serves a whole flourishing and more than profitable market. Yet, is it sound? The question must be asked, because, in the end, it' ...more
I have been a fan of Bentall's ever since the early 1990s, when Harper's published an excerpt from his "Proposal to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder." (see I dutifully tracked down the original, and it was just as clever, insightful and deadpan funny as I expected. So when I came across a mention of this book recently, I had to read it.

It was interesting and informative but OMG is it a slog. The book is intended to be intelligible to a lay au
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych
The title of this book is misleading. Bentall has no better - but, in my view, a potentially more confusing - explanation of madness then those he wishes to supplant.

He starts fairly well by critique-ing the Kraepelin-ian (=medical/biological) model of mental illness. The reason why this reads well is because criticizing others is easy compared to bringing forth your own ideas. The trouble is that apart from his ad hominems against the seminal figures of psychiatric history, Bentall's writing co
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Iš lėto skaitydama pabaigiau. Labai insightful knyga, autoriaus argumentai iš visų pusių paremti begale tyrimų. Padeda kiek kitaip pažvelgti į šizofreniją, bipolar ir jų simptomus, kadangi viskas, ką šie žmonės patiria, tėra tik įvairiais atstumais tam tikroje skalėje nutolę taškai nuo to, kas iš tikro yra human nature.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is nothing outstanding about the writing or the text-flow of the book; but the ideas expressed within are of remarkable importance imo. Bentall builds a very strong case against the theoretical underpinnings of modern psychiatry and its resulting practices.

However, there are two things I find a bit frustrating, none of which are a criticism towards the author or the book. First is the lack of predictive knowledge we still have on the issue of psychotic illness. The second is that while th
Ade Bailey
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am going to enjoy this. From the start it exposes that the way out of the epistemological quagmire that surrounds discussions of mental health (or whatever you call it) is to agree to agree with the most rudimentary taxonomies and classification systems provided they have coherence, stability and reliability. Validity need never be in question in a world where pragmatic silencing (in all its meanings) is 'result' enough.
The huge weight of evidence that different psychiatrists using different s
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book provides plenty of evidence that the current model of diagnosing and treating psychosis leaves a lot to be desired. The author writes as if he's chatting with the reader while citing and footnoting endless research studies and other evidence to support his hypotheses and claims. It sort of reads as a whodunnit in that he starts out investigating, proving and substantiating his assertion that human nature is more than just sanity and insanity, mental health and mental illness. We're not ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A perfect introduction for people interested in a scientific approach to psychopathology
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
I have skimmed most of this book. I believe the title should have been something like "The history of madness. Evolution of psychosis in the psychiatric system of thought" . While the research for this book is outstanding, and the author carefully argued the backlashes of psychiatry in curing psychosis, schizophrenia and manic depression I found myself less interested in it. Why? Because I was hoping to get an understansing of what is particularly different in this individuals that such conseque ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book starts with a very concise history of psychiatry and how sanity is defined by the psychiatric model. It adopts a humanitarian view on what we called insanity, and grounds it within our social/cultural context. It presents evidence on the similarity of different classifications, specifically with schizophrenia, mania and depression, and proposes that we should abandon the Kraepelinian model of classification, and turn to a symptom-oriented model.

Whilst the book suggests that there is an
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good, academic overview of how the problems with psychiatry and its traditional views of madness developed. To me, the final section of the book, which was obviously the author's passion, should have been expanded. This was also obviously his original intention, but he was told to limit it for space reasons (something he mentions in the book). I hope he went on to write other books.
Eloise bookworm
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally done. It was informational! Lots to learn:)
Waldez Da s. s
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a book!
Georgia Flatman
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly fascinating.
Tiago Faleiro
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, owned
Its name certainly isn't misleading and gives a very impressive account of both psychosis and human nature. Bentall spends a significant portion of the book explaining, and then arguing against, what he calls the Kraepelin paradigm. The view that dominates current psychiatry, started by Kraepelin, the founder of modern scientific psychiatry in the early 20th century, and who popularized dementia praecox (what we now call schizophrenia). Bentall is more than qualified for this type of book and pr ...more
William Sandnes
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Madness Explained takes you on a journey through psychiatric history, research and development, and argues that the long-prevailing doctrine after Emil Kraepelin is deficient regarding many aspects.

Without reducing the book to a sentence, the main theme of the book is that psychosis and different kinds of mental disorders should be viewed as variations of normal psychology - that it belongs on a continuum between sane and insane, rather than being a different entity. He argues that we should no
Terri-louise Fountain
I have to give this book a neutral rating of 3 stars. Whilst it is well written and easy to read especially for those unfamiliar to the subject, I personally disagree with some of the points made. Whilst I agree that there are faults within the bio-medical model and its treatments, I can't completely accept the cognitive model as in this book, as there are some equally awful research papers with poorly constructed statistics on both sides. What I do appreciate though is the authors acceptance th ...more
Alannah Clarke
An interesting book but also something I never thought I would have to read for an English Literature module, on the surface it does look like something somebody would use for psychology. But overall it's something that can easily be used to help understand the mental illness I see in my module as the book is well written and offers such an interesting argument.
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: counseling
Bentall is a non-Christian psychologist who doesn't buy in to the medical model for the description and explanation of madness. A very good book for an explanation of the history of mental illness and another good explanation for the etiology of schizophrenia.
Rashad Raoufi
he makes a very powerful arguement, the book is well wrritten and absorbing to anyone with an interest in mental health, although there is alot of information to comprehend, the simple style makes it very clear and easy to read and understand,thought provoking and stimulating read.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A scientific page turner is not something you come across often. Capable of changing your perspective, and very educational. Reading this book liberated me from some of my symptoms, just from knowing their nature and origin.
Miceál Wilson
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book this year.
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Probably 4.5-5 stars realistically, because it is not perfect. It is, however, hugely interesting and well written and offers compelling analysis throughout.
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book examines the causes of many of the symptoms of madness in a humane and in-depth manner. There is some info as well about who ends up becoming mentally ill.
Stam Man
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Лудница човек, адската мания е тая книга
Angus MacHaggis
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Now I know me madness better!!!
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book! An excellent introduction to the fundamentals of history and philosophy of psychology, paired with radically new approach to psychiatric issues.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
amazing, but dragging, pull through and it truly is profound though
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Very well written and thought provoking.
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