Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
A patchy picture
on 23 August 2013
No mere layman such as myself should dare to question Darian Leader's erudition and I don't wish to do so. On the other hand, I felt that his 'What Is Madness?' suffers from two main flaws, quite apart from a writing style that can be irritating at times.
To me, the greatest flaw is Leader's wholesale adoption of the tenets of psychoanalysis without the slightest recognition that, for all its useful, often valuable, insights, psychoanalysis is a belief system. It is not evidence-based psychiatry, it relies on intuition. In a nutshell, anyone's guess is as good as anyone else's guess.
The second flaw is that this is a book about psychosis that omits any reference to psychotic melancholia as defined in DSM-IV.
Having said that, the book undoubtedly has its moments of penetrating insight: perhaps most prominently the difference Leader points up in 'being mad' and 'going mad'. It's a thought worth much keeping in mind that many people conduct perfectly successful, normal lives while 'being mad' in the terms in which Leader defines the condition.
And one final gripe. By the fifth or sixth time of reading one of his statements-disguised-as-rhetorical-question ('Might it not in fact be that...?) I wanted to fling the book clear across the other side of the room. And it wasn't a small room...