Madness : A Brief History

3.46 (614 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$22.01

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


This story of madness reveals the radically different perceptions of madness and approaches to its treatment, from antiquity to the beginning of the 21st century. Roy Porter explores what we really mean by "madness", covering an enormous range of topics from witches to creative geniuses, electric shock therapy to sexual deviancy, and psychoanalysis to Prozac. The origins of debates about how we define and deal with insanity are examined through eyewitness accounts of those treating patients, writers, artists, and the mad more

Product details

  • Hardback | 253 pages
  • 129.54 x 180.34 x 27.94mm | 249.47g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 30 b&w halftones
  • 0192802666
  • 9780192802668

About Roy Porter

Roy Porter is Professor of the Social History of Medicine at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. He is the author of over 80 books, including Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World and A Social History of more

Review quote

Roy Porter's untimely death deprived us of one of the outstanding scholars of his generation. This short book on how mental illness has been defined and treated through the ages is brilliantly done. It's concise but not reductive; readable but not dumbed down. Porter wears his vast interdisciplinary learning lightly, and has the knack of combining elegantly clear summary with vivid and intriguing detail - from witchcraft to Freud; from Bedlam to psychopharmacology and beyond. And Porter is also highly informative whilst whetting the reader's appetite for more. In this way the book functions as an ideal (and handsomely produced) introduction to its subject; and as a compelling gateway onto its author's more than 80 other more

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Madness, Gods, and Demons; 3. The Rationality of Madness; 4. Fools and Folly; 5. Locking up the Mad; 6. The Rise of Psychiatry; 7. The Mad; 8. The Century of Psychoanalysis; 9. Conclusion: Modern Times, Ancient Problems?show more

Rating details

614 ratings
3.46 out of 5 stars
5 16% (96)
4 31% (192)
3 39% (241)
2 12% (73)
1 2% (12)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X