Madness, in our culture, is defined by visibility. From the popular press to TV soaps and films, the depiction of madness always borders on the extreme: violent outbursts, fits, hallucinations.
But what if madness is not exactly what we think it to be? What if it is the rule rather than the exception? And what if its defining features are not visible and dramatic but, on the contrary, highly discreet, shared by average citizens who will never come to psychiatric attention? What if, in other words, there is a difference between being mad and going mad?
Beginning and ending with the case of Harold Shipman - a mass-murderer so apparently 'normal' that some of his patients said they would still be treated by him even after his conviction - psychoanalyst Darian Leader explores the idea of discreet madness, and argues that it is only through revising our concept of what madness is that we will have the tools to help those who have gone mad to rebuild their lives.