Madness in America: Cultural and Medical Perceptions of Mental Illness Before 1914 (Cornell Studies in the History of Psychiatry)

Madness in America: Cultural and Medical Perceptions of Mental Illness Before 1914 (Cornell Studies in the History of Psychiatry)

  • ISBN-13: 9780801431616
  • $13.25

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In this book, Lynn Gamwell and Nancy Tomes explore the historical roots of Americans' understanding of madness today. Drawing on a rich array of sources, the authors interweave the perceptions of medical practitioners, the mentally ill and their families, and journalists, poets, novelists, and artists. As they trace successive ways of explaining madness and treating those judged insane, Gamwell and Tomes vividly depict the political and cultural dimensions of American attitudes toward mental illness.Gamwell and Tomes observe telling differences in the ways in which patients of different genders, races, and classes have been diagnosed and treated. The authors demonstrate how definitions of madness figured in national debates over abolitionism, women's rights, and alternative medicine. Madness in America also considers how the boundaries between sanity and insanity have been repeatedly redrawn in such areas as sexual behavior and criminality.

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