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Mad, Bad And Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present [Hardcover]

Lisa Appignanesi
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Feb 2008

From the depression suffered by Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath to the mental anguish and addictions of iconic beauties Zelda Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. From Theroigne de Mericourt, Fury of the Gironde, who descended from the bloody triumphs of the French Revolution to untameable insanity in La Salpetriere asylum, to Mary Lamb, sister of Charles, who in the throes of a nervous breakdown turned on her mother with a kitchen knife. From Freud and Jung to Lacan and the new women-centred therapies. This is the story of how we have understood extreme states of mind over the last two hundred years and how we conceive of them today, when more and more of our inner life and emotions have become a matter for medics and therapists.

Here too is the story of the professions that have grown up to offer treatment, of how over the years symptoms and diagnoses have developed together to create fashions in illness and how treatments have succeeded orsometimes failed, even when those providing care were women too. MAD, BAD AND SAD takes us on a fascinating journey through the fragile, extraordinary human mind.



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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,845 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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
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. Satirising, she concludes: "Being alive as a woman at the end of the twentieth century meant to be an incest survivor" (p 416).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More of a timeline than a formal history 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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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting yet thorough, with fascinating detail 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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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get through 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Read! 4 July 2014
By sarah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well written! I used this as critical for dissertation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 7 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback
One of the best books I have read on the subject of mental health. A fascinating introduction of the attitude towards mental health, treatments and therapies across the ages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 14 May 2013
By Loouisa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a therapist, I bought this for it's historical and factual content, but it also contains very interesting life stories. At times, a painful read about real suffering in womens' lives. I felt sad, sometimes angry, but ultimately educated in this topic which, in one way or another, affects all women.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars can you write a book about mentall illness with a background in...
I wonder how much the author really understands about mental illness , as the more I read the more I felt she had fundamental misconceptions of her subject matter. Read more
Published 11 months ago by carrick
4.0 out of 5 stars Mad, Bad and Sad
I have herd many good things about his book however i havent had chance to read it yet. All i can comment on is the wonedrful service which i received.
Published 16 months ago by L. Rowley
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
very liked this book, it is a very attent discussion on the issue of madness. defently reccomended to anybody wishing to study the issue
Published 19 months ago by Giuseppe Dorigatti
4.0 out of 5 stars a good, comprehensive and well written history
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.
Published 20 months ago by Jo
4.0 out of 5 stars A history of women's mental illness
Moving chronologically this book details mental illness in women and how it was treated throughout recent history. Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by KAW
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
Lisa Appignanesi has written an amazing book on the history of "feminine madness". It's intelligent, ironic and entertaining. A great reading!
Published on 25 July 2011 by Carmen
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating topic, elegantly written
I thought I knew a lot about this subject already after decades of reading about such things but Lisa Appignanesi opened my eyes to many sad, forgotten cases of women gone mad or... Read more
Published on 5 April 2010 by Lawrence Thursk
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