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Manic Minds: Mania's Mad History and Its Neuro-Future

LISA M. HERMSEN
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 172
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhx14
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  • Book Info
    Manic Minds
    Book Description:

    From its first depictions in ancient medical literature to contemporary depictions in brain imaging, mania has been largely associated with its Greek roots, "to rage." Prior to the nineteenth century, "mania" was used interchangeably with "madness." Although its meanings shifted over time, the word remained layered with the type of madness first-century writers described: rage, fury, frenzy. Even now, the mental illness we know as bipolar disorder describes conditions of extreme irritability, inflated grandiosity, and excessive impulsivity.Spanning several centuries,Manic Mindstraces the multiple ways in which the word "mania" has been used by popular, medical, and academic writers. It reveals why the rhetorical history of the word is key to appreciating descriptions and meanings of the "manic" episode." Lisa M. Hermsen examines the way medical professionals analyzed the manic condition during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and offers the first in-depth analysis of contemporary manic autobiographies: bipolar figures who have written from within the illness itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5203-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: MANIA’S MAD HISTORY AND ITS NEURO-FUTURE
    (pp. 1-12)

    I showed up for my intake interview on Halloween 2003 as an obvious, almost clichéd, figure of madness. I had been performing a kind of madness in various ways for years with deliberate imprecision. I wasn’t actually crazy all the time or everywhere. There was little clarity or rigor—no method to my madness. Nevertheless, I had shown up for this interview wearing my Halloween costume: the black widow with fishnet stockings, shoes with heels meant more for seduction than mourning, a nearly too-short black velvet skirt, a gossamer top, long black silk gloves, a black wedding veil, and a...

  6. CHAPTER 1 MANIA MULTIPLIES WITH FURY: TEXTBOOK DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
    (pp. 13-36)

    French psychiatrist Etienne Esquirol (1772–1840), once known as “the crown prince of reformed psychiatry,” is still the figure credited in the history of psychiatry with inventing the first modern classification of psychiatric disorders.¹ Esquirol emphasized the importance of observation in case reports, like the observation of Mademoiselle in the chapter epigraph, to refine diagnostic categories. As Esquirol observes this patient upon her admission into Salpêtrière, he observes: “The emaciation, the swarthy hue of the skin, the contraction of the muscles of the countenance, the knit brow, the commissures of the lips convulsively raised, the eyes sunken, often injected and...

  7. CHAPTER 2 THE MANIAC AND THE ICONOGRAPHY OF REFORM
    (pp. 37-63)

    Definitions of mania that traveled out of textbooks and into asylum reports in the first years of the nineteenth century created the most famous iconography of the maniac and his “liberation” out of the dungeon and from his chains. Tales of violent maniacs brought to their reason, calmed without resort to violent restraint, provide vivid portrayals of the great unchaining and the coordination of rhetoric in asylum reform. Philippe Pinel in France and Samuel Tuke in England compose strikingly akin accounts: when a potentially violent maniac unexpectedly threatens to attack with a rock or stick, the physician approaches the maniac,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 MIDWESTERN MANIA: GENETICS IN THE HEARTLAND
    (pp. 64-80)

    In the asylum, madness was transmittable, mania inherited, and chronic mental illness incurable. Mania could be transferred, at least in the sense that the sufferer would badly influence the quieter and calmer class of patients, and so must be confined. The rhetoric of inheritance as cause for mania justified the label “incurable” and the need for custodial care. The shift from a nineteenth-century concept of heredity, to the early twentieth-century concept of genetics, to the late twentieth-century materialization of genomics shaped the rhetoric of etiology, classification, and treatment of mania. For a time in the early to mid–twentieth century,...

  9. CHAPTER 4 MANIC LIVES: MAD MEMOIRS
    (pp. 81-97)

    Mania has been recognized by physicians from the first century to the twenty-first century as both general madness and a form of madness with unique qualities. But no medical account can describe adequately what those who suffer mania experience. No description of mania in textbooks or asylum reports, and certainly not in genetic studies, measures up to the detail of firsthand accounts. Those who experience bipolar illness who write about their experiences are quite aware that they are symptomatic. Mental illness narratives have appeared in unprecedented numbers in the last decade, many of them in the form of bipolar autobiography....

  10. CHAPTER 5 NEUROPSYCHIATRY, PHARMACOLOGY, AND IMAGING THE NEW MANIA
    (pp. 98-116)

    If madness was medicalized in the nineteenth century—by the classification of mania as mental illness—it has beentechnologizedin the twenty-first century by neuroimaging techniques and neuropharmaceutical entities that offer what may be more accurate means of diagnosing mental illness and discovering better treatment with more precise drug therapies. In the introduction to this book, I argued that a singular narrative of medicalization is too limited and limiting to account for the multiple ways in which madness gets made, unmade, and remade. One theme throughout my book is that there have been and continue to be different manias...

  11. EPILOGUE: A Mad, Mad World
    (pp. 117-122)

    Medical historians have noted that it was customary to describe the nineteenth century as “the nervous century.”¹ The clinical term for “the nerves” was “neurasthenia,” a condition marked by fatigue, headaches, indigestion, listlessness, and impoverished sexual activity. George Beard, member of the College of Physicians, began lecturing on the impoverished nervous system in the United States in 1868, describing various symptoms of neurasthenia. S. Weir Mitchell, who wrote extensively on the subject of public hygiene, in 1899 singled out the connection of neurasthenia to “mental hygiene,” intending to identify a cause.

    That in one or another way the cruel competition...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 123-136)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 137-146)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 147-154)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 155-156)