A Social History of Madness: The World Through the Eyes of the Insane

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9781555841850: A Social History of Madness: The World Through the Eyes of the Insane

Shares the insights and observations of kings, poets, artists, and writers considered clinically insane

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From Publishers Weekly:

The words of the insane are often dismissed as incoherent. Yet many men and women who are labeled mad or schizophrenic reveal startling insight into their own condition while condemning the callousness of a society that shuns them. Stories are related here of some two dozen people who endured severe mental illness, from medieval Englishwoman Margery Kempe who bore her husband 13 children against her will, to Dresden judge Daniel Schreber, tormented by hallucinations of a feminine soul that he came to accept as a sign of his higher mission. Some patients, like composer Robert Schumann, harnessed their inner demons to creative ends; others experienced madness as a religious ordeal; still others, fully articulate, railed at those who confined them to asylums. British historian Porter, co-editor of The Anatomy of Madness, has produced a disturbing and profound study of the way we treat the mentally ill and how the insane view the "normal" world.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Porter, a lecturer at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, explores the authenticated thoughts and personal narratives of supposed mad people, chiefly from earlier centuriesnot with the condescension accorded them in earlier times, but with the perspective of a social historian. The "stories" are vivid and show "that the beliefs of mad people make sense when read as part of a dialectic of consciousness between them and their times." They also reveal the difficulty of defining, from one century to the next, what demarcates the mad from the sane. Porter's nonpolemical but measured critical stance and credible reassessments make for enjoyable reading. Includes an extensive evaluative bibliography. William Abrams, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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