Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, by Andrew Scull

By Andrew Scull

The lack of cause, a feeling of alienation from the common sense international all of us prefer to think we inhabit, the shattering emotional turmoil which could grab carry of a few people: those are part of our shared human event no matter what tradition we come from. these days, psychological disturbance is most ordinarily (though now not regularly) considered via a scientific lens, yet humans have additionally continuously sought to make experience of the depredations of insanity via invocations of the non secular and the supernatural, or to build mental and social debts so one can tame the demons of Unreason.

Through twelve chapters prepared chronologically, from antiquity to at the present time, from the Bible to Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the idea of humours to trendy pharmacology, Andrew Scull writes compellingly of the manifestations of insanity, its meanings, its results and our makes an attempt to regard it.

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Additional info for Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

Sample text

What happens if they behave in exactly this way – and in circumstances in which goods are scarce? (We can more or less take such circumstances for granted. ) Hobbes’ entirely plausible answer was that under such circumstances human action was bound to lead to pervasive ‘force and fraud’, because as people compete for scarce goods in the absence of constraining rules each individual merely seeks her immediate advantage, her utility. Other people are either utilized as a means of satisfying one’s own needs and desires and may even be violently enslaved or they are deceived about others’ intentions, swindled when exchanging goods, etc.

For we must bear one thing in mind. Not only is it largely due to Parsons that the work of Durkheim and Weber has found such enduring acceptance within American sociology; not only is his creative way of dealing with these authors’ work and his approach to theory building responsible for the fact that American sociology saw major progress in the theoretical field and attained a new, far greater degree of sophistication from the late 1930s on. We should also be especially alert to the fact that even in Europe the status of Durkheim and Weber was by no means secure (any longer); following the death of a fair number of its founding fathers, European sociology entered a period of stagnation in the early 1920s.

Every sociologically interesting theory of action – and utilitarianism is or entails such a theory – must be able to explain how social order can come about. Because social order exists. The events which take place in our society, and also those which took place in Hobbes’ England, do and did so in line with certain rules, because the goals of the members of a society are often identical. But this means that we cannot assume straightforward ‘randomness of ends’ (a term frequently used by Parsons) among the members of a society; it is wrong to assume that people have only very specific, individual goals and conceptions of utility, not all of which or which only randomly tally with those of others, if indeed there is any overlap at all.

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