Medicine Roy Porter Madness: A Brief History

ISBN 13: 9780192802668

Madness: A Brief History

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( su 601 valutazioni fornite da Goodreads )
 
9780192802668: Madness: A Brief History

Looking back on his confinement to Bethlem, Restoration playwright Nathaniel Lee declared: "They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." As Roy Porter shows in Madness: A Brief History, thinking about who qualifies as insane, what causes mental illness, and how such illness should be treated has varied wildly throughout recorded history, sometimes veering dangerously close to the arbitrariness Lee describes and often encompassing cures considerably worse than the illness itself.
Drawing upon eyewitness accounts of doctors, writers, artists, and the mad themselves, Roy Porter tells the story of our changing notions of insanity and of the treatments for mental illness that have been employed from antiquity to the present day. Beginning with 5,000-year-old skulls with tiny holes bored in them (to allow demons to escape), through conceptions of madness as an acute phase in the trial of souls, as an imbalance of "the humours," as the "divine fury" of creative genius, as sanity itself in a world gone mad, or as the malfunctioning of brain chemistry, Porter shows the many ways madness has been perceived and misperceived in every historical period. He also takes us on a fascinating round of treatments, ranging from exorcism and therapeutic terror--including immersion in a tub of eels--to the first asylums, the anti-restraint movement, shock therapy, the birth of psychoanalysis, and the current use of psychotropic drugs.
Throughout, Madness: A Brief History offers a balanced view, showing both the humane attempts to help the insane as well as the ridiculous and often cruel misunderstanding that have bedeviled our efforts to heal the mind of its myriad afflictions.

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About the Author:


Roy Porter is Professor of the Social History of Medicine at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. He is the author of over 80 books, including Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World and A Social History of Madness.

Review:


"A brief and fascinating history of insanity."--Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review


"In just over 200 pages Porter manages to cram in everything from 7,000-year-old skulls with holes bored into them to release demons to the rise of psychopharmacology. In between we get Greco-Roman rationalism, the bloody and persistent belief that mental illness was caused by a compromised faith in God (approximately 200,000 witches killed), the rebirth of the humors (blood, choler, melancholy, and--my favorite--phlegm), institutionalization, Freudian analysis, de-institutionalization, the death of Freudian analysis (to your computers, Cambridge analysts!), and the glorification of insanity under Michel Foucault. It's a rich history, and because of Porter's delightful habit of bringing in colorful figures to fill out the story, his book seems bright even when walking the dingy halls of Bedlam."--Sunday Boston Globe


"The sudden and unexpected death of Roy Porter in March robbed the English-speaking world of one of its most prolific, colorful and talented social historians.... Madness...displays several of his virtues: his wide reading, his prodigious memory, his extraordinary capacity for synthesis, his eye for an anecdote, and the sheer fun he took in telling a story."--Nature


"A magisterial synthesis of 1,000 years of mental illness and psychiatric remedies. The book wears its learning so lightly that in an afternoon's perusal, the average reader has a genuinely informed account of what all the shouting has been about."--Toronto Globe and Mail


"This small book is rich in detail yet never loses sight of the broader ebb and flow in society's beliefs about what constitutes mental illness."--Houston Chronicle


"Combines the appeal of history as narrative with the intellectual stimulation derived from cogent analysis.... Will engage both general readers and psychiatry students with its sparkling prose."--Library Journal


"Highly acclaimed medical historian Porter traces changes in attitude toward madness all the way from prehistoric beliefs in demonic possession to the contention of some modern theorists that mental illness simply does not exist.... A small book that raises big questions about the profession of psychiatry and the notion of scientific progress."--Kirkus Reviews


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