Madness in Civilization

Madness in Civilization

A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

  1. Andrew Scull
  • ISBN 9780500292549
  • 23.40 x 15.60 cm
  • Paperback
  • 448pp
  • 128 Illustrations, 44 in colour
  • First published 2016

Today, mental disturbance is most commonly viewed through a medical lens, but societies have also sought to make sense of it through religion or the supernatural, or by constructing psychological or social explanations in an effort to tame the demons of unreason. Madness in Civilization traces the long and complex history of this affliction and our attempts to treat it.

Now in paperback!

‘A brilliant culural history: deserves to be widely read’ – The Times
‘Offers what is perhaps the most comprehensive account of the history of psychiatry that has yet appeared in a single volume’– The Times Literary Supplement
‘Vast in scope and learning … a book that is as illuminating as it is compendious … absorbing and often discomfiting … a magisterial survey’– New Statesman
‘A learned, liberally humanitarian and wryly witty account … written with such admirable verve and lucidity’– The Oldie
'To provide a comprehensive narrative of the cultural history of insanity across western and eastern civilizations … would be a daunting task for anyone. That Andrew Scull has achieved this ambitious goal so adeptly is a testament to the depth and breadth of his erudition'– BBC History Magazine
‘Beautifully produced, accompanied by a rich array of vivid illustrations, and elegantly and engagingly written’– History of Psychiatry

Andrew Scull paints a vivid and often harrowing portrait of the different ways that cultures around the world have interpreted the seemingly irrational, psychotic and insane.

Madness in Civilization

From the Bible to Sigmund Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humours to modern pharmacology, the book explores the manifestations and meanings of madness and our varied responses to it. It also looks at the profound influence it has had on the arts, from drama, opera and novels to drawing, painting and sculpture.

Extensively illustrated throughout, and highly readable, Madness in Civilization will quickly become recognized as a landmark volume. This is an exceptional and masterful panoramic history of a subject of profound significance to us all.

'This is history at its best, scintillating in its detail and passionate about a subject that concerns us all’– Lisa Appignanesi, author of Trials of Passion: Crime in the Name of Love and Madness
‘Holds the reader spellbound … a compelling book from a master of his craft.’William Bynum, Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine, University College London, and editor of Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine
‘A wonderful book, fascinating and beautifully written, with Scull’s usual verve and erudition’– Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind

Andrew Scull is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego. He has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton. His many publications include Museums of Madness; Social Order/Mental Disorder; The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700–1900; Masters of Bedlam; Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine; and Madness: A Very Short Introduction. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in leading journals, including the TLS, The Lancet and Brain. He has held fellowships from (among others) the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies and in 1992–93 he was the president of the Society for the Social History of Medicine.


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