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Madness in Civilization

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

Andrew Scull


‘A brilliant cultural history … Scull’s book fills a gap in the literature and deserves to be widely read … outstanding’ The Times


This ambitious volume, worldwide in scope and ranging from antiquity to the present, examines the human encounter with Unreason in all its manifestations, the challenges it poses to society and our responses to it. In twelve chapters organized chronologically from the Bible to Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humours to modern pharmacology, Andrew Scull writes compellingly about madness, its meanings, its consequences and our attempts to understand and treat it.


'Perhaps the most comprehensive account of the history of psychiatry that has yet appeared in a single volume'
The Times Literary Supplement

'A milestone text … No other monograph has accomplished such scope, perception and balance in covering madness’s haunting, shifting presence in civilization’s psyche '
BBC History Magazine

'Powerful and disturbing … a panoramic survey'
The Sunday Times

'Learned, liberally humanitarian and wryly witty'
The Spectator

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 448 pp

Illustrations: 128

Publication date: 30 January 2020

ISBN: 9780500295632

Contents List

Endorsements • 1. Confronting Madness • 2. Madness in the Ancient World • 3. The Darkness and the Dawn • 4. Melancholie and Madnesse • 5. Madhouses and MadDoctors • 6. Nerves and Nervousness • 7. The Great Confinement • 8. Degeneration and Despair • 9. The Demi-Fous • 10. Desperate Remedies • 11. A Meaningful Interlude • 12. A Psychiatric Revolution?

About the Author

Andrew Scull is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of many books, including Masters of Bedlam; Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine; and Madness: A Very Short Introduction.