This Way Madness Lies

This Way Madness Lies

The Asylum and Beyond

(Published in partnership with The Wellcome Collection)
  1. Mike Jay
  • ISBN 9780500518977
  • 27.90 x 17.90 cm
  • PLC (with jacket)
  • 256pp
  • with over 600 photographs and illustrations
  • First published 2016

A compelling illustrated exploration of the evolution of the asylum and attitudes to the insane from the 17th century to the present day

‘Superb … the text exhibits all the lucidity you could wish for when struggling to apprehend this most disturbing and problematic of subjects’ – Will Self London Review of Books

This Way Madness Lies

Is mental illness – or madness – at root an illness of the body, a disease of the mind or a sickness of the soul? This Way Madness Lies is a thought-provoking exploration of the history of madness and its treatment as seen through the lens of its proverbial home: the Royal Bethlem Hospital, London, popularly known as Bedlam.

Organized chronologically, the book explores the meaning of mental illness through the successive incarnations of the institution that defined it: the 18th-century madhouse, the 19th-century asylum and the 20th-century mental hospital.

This Way Madness Lies

Moving and sometimes provocative illustrations sourced from the Wellcome Trust’s exceptional collection and the Royal Bethlem Hospital’s archive highlight the trajectory of each era of institution: founded in the optimistic spirit of humanitarian reform but eventually dismantled amid accusations of cruelty and neglect.

Each chapter concludes with a selection of revealing and captivating artwork created by asylum patients and other artists responding to the asylum. Compelling and intriguing, these artworks express the personalities and attitudes of the originators far more powerfully than descriptions of their conditions by doctors.

Accompanies the exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, London, from 15 September 2016 to 15 January 2017.

Mike Jay has written widely on the history of science, medicine and the mind, and has co-curated the exhibition that accompanies this book. He is the author of several books, including High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture, also published by Thames & Hudson.