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

Roy Porter, Author Grove/Atlantic $18.95 (261p) ISBN 978-1-55584-185-0
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. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 261 pages - 978-0-525-48514-8
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