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Mind, Modernity, Madness

Mind, Modernity, Madness

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 688
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  • Book Info
    Mind, Modernity, Madness
    Book Description:

    A leading interpreter of modernity argues that our culture of limitless self-fulfillment is making millions mentally ill. Training her analytic eye on manic depression and schizophrenia, Liah Greenfeld, in the culminating volume of her trilogy on nationalism, traces these dysfunctions to society's overburdening demands for self-realization.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07440-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)

    The purpose of this book is to make evident that culture is an empirical reality of the first order in human life—that it, in the most profound sense of the wordmakesus human anddefineshuman experience. Its empirical focus, the area of experience chosen to drive this point home, is the phenomenon for a long time called simply “madness,” but today regarded either as three mental diseases—“the big three of contemporary psychiatry”:¹ schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression—or as the two varieties of psychotic disorder with unknown organic basis: schizophrenia and manic-depressive affective illness (which...


    • 1 Premises
      (pp. 35-58)

      Let us begin with a little experiment: consider your daily experiences from the moment you wake up to the time you are falling asleep at night.

      Give yourself two minutes.

      What are these experiences? What do they consist of and where do they happen?

      Remember: you hear the alarm. The first thing you feel is, perhaps, irritation: “Oh, gosh, it’s time to get up again,” you say to yourself. Or, perhaps, your first experience of the day is joy: you say, “Aha, another day—so many wonderful things will happen!” and imagine these wonderful things. You get out of bed,...

    • 2 The Mind as an Emergent Phenomenon
      (pp. 59-112)

      Now that we have cleared the major obstacle on the way to our investigation—the universal claim among scientists that the mind is not a scientific subject and any pronouncements about it must be considered pure speculation—and escaped the epistemological vice in which our thinking has been held for 2,500 years, let us analyze our empirical evidence and see what, in fact, the mind—or the soul—is.

      Since we have agreed to regard the mind as an emergent phenomenon, it would make sense to begin with the elements out of which it is emergent and which serve as...


    • 3 Madness in Its Pure Form: Schizophrenia
      (pp. 115-210)

      Schizophrenia is widely considered the most severe and least susceptible to treatment of severe mental diseases, “the cancer of the mind,” “madness in its pure form,” “the quintessential form of madness in our time.” Its causes are unknown and there is no cure for it. A world’s leading expert on this condition, Irving I. Gottesman, wrote in 1999:

      Many scientists from various fields have studied this most puzzling illness closely for nearly 200 years. . . . Dozens of therapies for severely disordered minds have been tried, from spinning chairs to bloodletting to psychoanalysis, to no lasting avail. It was...

    • 4 Madness Muddled: Manic-Depressive Illness
      (pp. 211-308)

      The following discussion is based on the recent (2007) second edition of the authoritativeManic-Depressive Illness(hereafter referred to as MDI) treatise by Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison.¹ Over 1,000 pages long, this treatise summarizes all that is known about the subject to date and is the text used as reference both by clinicians and by psychiatrists in training. Before its appearance this role—of the last word in its area in psychiatry—was played by the first edition of the book, which came out in 1990. The second edition not only included the discussion of the new...


    • 5 The Cradle of Madness
      (pp. 311-401)

      The sixteenth century in England was a time of colossal transformations. The graves of feudal lords slain on the one side and the other in the War of the Roses contained not only these mortal remains: a whole world lay buried in them. Rigor mortis, paradoxically, was a central characteristic of that, now dead, world in its life: for it was the world of the society of orders—a stony social structure, as imposing as that of a fortified castle towering over the countryside, with its thick walls, deep dungeons, and narrow windows letting in just enough light to enable...

    • 6 Going International: The Spread of Madness in Europe
      (pp. 402-521)

      In the second half of the seventeenth century the word “spleen” became the vernacular English term for melancholy in the sense of endogenous depression, though it did have numerous synonyms, such as “vapours,” “hysteric fits,” and the “hyp” or “hypo.” The disease itself, “finally, because of its extraordinary prevalence in England,” writes Cecil A. Moore, came to be regarded as “the English malady.”¹ It is possible that some began to affect it, even if they did not suffer from it in fact, as a national characteristic, the quality that made them what they were. In 1664, a court official and...

    • 7 Madder Than Them All: From the Records of American Insanity
      (pp. 522-614)

      This poem appeared in the first issue of theAmerican Journal of Insanity(hereafter referred to asAJI).¹ The quarterly periodical began publication in July 1844, in Utica, New York, and despite its suggestive title, was not an early precursor ofMADmagazine, but a serious professional journal that some eighty years thence would becomeThe American Journal of Psychiatry. Its “principal Editor” was Dr. Amariah Brigham, the physician and superintendent of the New York State Asylum for the Insane, founded in Utica several months earlier. The poem was called “Hypo”—“hypo,” as was mentioned in the previous chapter, was...

  8. Afterword
    (pp. 615-628)

    Madness was not brought about by the progress of civilization. It was brought about by nationalism, the cultural framework of modernity, by the best this secular, egalitarian, essentially humanistic and democratic image of reality has to offer: its insistence on the dignity and creativity of man, and on the value of the human life, on equality and liberty of members in the political community, on their right and capacity to construct their own destinies, to love, and to be happy. It is the other side of the coin, a proof that, as with most things in life, benefits are usually...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 629-662)
  10. Index
    (pp. 663-670)