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A Visionary Madness: The Case of James Tilly Matthews and the Influencing Machine Paperback – 7 Jan 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 275 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; Reprint edition (7 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583947175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583947173
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 835,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across the case of James Tilly Matthews totally by accident, followed a link to this book and am I glad I did. This is one of those wonderful books that throws a lot of fascinating material at you and gives your mind a feast. 'A Visionary Madness' is a mixture of history, both social and political, biography, psychology and cultural history. In this book, Mike Jay relates the history of James Tilly Matthews and examines it from a variety of angles.
Instead of writing in a chronological way and in one set manner, Kay begins the book with a fictional and, by his own admission, speculative account of the events that led to Matthews arrest. The tale then covers the French revolution and Britain's response to that momentous and increasingly bloodthirsty event. The story essentially revolves around the question of whether Matthews was a political prisoner or was locked away because he was genuinely mad, because he believed he was being controlled by a bizarre piece of apparatus called the air loom.
This case is important because it occurs at a point in the history of psychology where delusions no longer involved God, the devil and religion, but were changing with the world as machines came into everyday life. It is also of interest because of the political aspects. Did a combination of a repressive regime and a heartless doctor, Haslam, driven by his own ambition and blinkered views, conspire to unjustly imprison an individual? One of the themes of this book is the price the individual can pay when living in 'interesting times'. Where do we draw the line on this matter?
Kay draws a very sympathetic portrait of Matthews and his unfortunate, rather shadowy, family, but never tells us what to think. All the varying views of this man are given a voice, including his own.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x85badc30) out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x85db099c) out of 5 stars Facscinating! 22 Feb. 2015
By Gd Elkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, very well-written and should be of interest to anyone fascinated by history and mental health.
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