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, painting a vivid and often harrowing portrait of the different ways that cultures around the world have interpreted the seemingly irrational, psychotic and insane.
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.
This is an exceptional and masterful panoramic history of a subject of profound significance to us all.