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Mad, Bad And Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present Hardcover – 14 Feb 2008

20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (14 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844082334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844082339
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 634,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

** 'Informative in startling ways, and never dull in the academic way, Appignanesi's genuinely new History of the Mind Doctors is a subtle and accessible account of that perhaps most daunting of modern relationships, the one between the Mind Doctor and his female patient. Because Appignanesi has a complex story to tell there is no blaming at work in this wonderful book, but a shrewd and sympathetic apprehension of what is at stake in the difficult histories of both the Mind Doctors and those they seek to help. It is a remarkable achievement (Adam Phillips)

** 'A tantalising mix of polemic and history, of ideology and fact . . . A gripping read . . . In a league far above any other book of its kind on this topic (SUNDAY BUSINESS POST)

** 'Endlessly fascinating (THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

** 'Subtle, textured and enthralling . . . One of the great strengths of this book is the way in which it charts the uncanny relationship between fashions in psychiatric theory and sufferer s' symptoms (SUNDAY TIMES)

Book Description

* 'In every generation there are quite firm rules on how to behave when you are crazy' Ian Hacking

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By cathy earnshaw on 21 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this. Not only was it going to delve into the case histories of Mary Lamb, sister to Keats's friend Charles Lamb, who stabbed her mother to death in 1796 and was intermittently held in London "mad-houses" but not subjected to a criminal trial, as well as of Sylvia Plath, the enormously gifted US poet who committed suicide in 1963, but it was also going to explore on a broader canvas subjects close to my heart: women, depression and how states commonly referred to as "mental illness" have been treated in the last 200+ years.

But it was a hard slog. Not only was the writing so convoluted in places that I almost gave up trying to untangle the logic; ideas and examples were not brought together into a coherent whole or a sense of coherent overview. There were very strange moments, too: In a chapter on abuse Appignanesi writes "The ever resisted notion of infantile sexuality - which most recently has found our cultural abhorrence of its existence writ large in the scapegoating of 'paedophiles' - has continued to be the manifold structure which analysts focus on within the analysis, precisely because it so often results in producing what is called the 'negative' transference" (p. 228). Is she seriously suggesting that those suspected of being paedophiles are being unjustly abhorred because we, as a culture, cannot accept that children may be sexual beings? Later on she seems to disregard the prevalence of sexual abuse, arguing that much of it is imagined or fantasised within or without therapy.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Charon Nix on 7 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Weak.This book jumps from idea to idea without linking them together. Critically ,for a historical text, it fails at explaining how things were , why they were such and why and how they came to change. The tone is highly uneven, at times reading like pop-psych fluff and at others as a leaden and pretentious attempt at scholarly research. It's neither a formal medical history ,saying little about the evolving "mind" professions or their methods, nor is it really a social history(as it ought to be given its title) assessing the wider impact of Psychiatry on women in particular. Come to think of it she never really justifies her choice to study only Psychology's relationship to women specifically as opposed to both(?!) genders.There is little by way of verifiable statistics and broad assumptions are made regarding the reader's level of knowledge.Disappointing.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Montefiore on 15 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Long and thorough but easily dipped into by chapters, this is a great survey of specific women - from famous literary figures on down - and the medical practices and theories that bound them and defined them in different ways. While it's clearly taken on a lot of the theory of Foucault and others in its reading of history, it's not a difficult book. Though rigorous, it is less interested in a final conclusion or a theory of history, than it is in the weave of detail and the weighing of comparables in actual lives, both of the mind-doctors and their subjects. Some of the life stories are both unbelieveable and inspiring. Making difficult ideas accessible and even entertaining to read about, i recommend this highly as a very usfeul and readable survey of the field.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By readeroftwo on 18 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I was very excited about this book. It sounded interesting and right up my alley. But from the first chapter I was astounded by the writing. it was very difficult to read--verbose, often grammatically incorrect. It made it all very distracting from the subject matter and stories. Anecdotes were good, interesting. But the writing really detracts from quality of book, unfortunately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sarah on 4 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written! I used this as critical for dissertation.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Thompson on 30 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
A very well researched and written account of psychological pressure through the life and times of women
(Including lots of insights into the after lives of some famous patients). This book is fascinating, and it's written in a lively and stylish manner, without a whiff of jargon.
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By disco fox on 14 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Finally read this book - had it for like 4 years now. Feel empowered and enlightened, especially considering as I am a woman, a patient and a doctor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this history - it is well-researched and well-written. A good buy, prompted by see the author on a BBC programme recently.
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