cover image Alien Landscapes? Interpreting Disordered Minds

Alien Landscapes? Interpreting Disordered Minds

Jonathan Glover. Harvard Univ, $35 (436p) ISBN 978-0-674-36836-1

Glover (Causing Death and Saving Lives), professor of ethics at the School of Law, King’s College, London, attempts a close encounter of the intellectual kind as he probes the ethical aspects of mental disorders and opens up new terrain in an age-old discussion. Responding to the long-standing discord between humanist and scientific perspectives on mental illness—an imbalance that consistently favors science—Glover aims to restore humanist views to the discussion through a sensitive examination of art, literature, and, perhaps most noteworthy, interviews with people who have mental disorders. One of Glover’s central points is that moral values can shed light on how mental illness is interpreted, and indeed discussion of interpretation guides a good portion of the book. Glover’s background in philosophy and ethics gives the discussion a decisively philosophical slant. The humanist point of view is often expressed esoterically. Such an approach feels alien to those who come to the topic exclusively interested in mental disorder. For the philosophically inclined, though, Glover’s exploration will prove to be an exciting and informative text. (Sept.)