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History of Madness by Michel Foucault
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History of Madness (edition 2006)

by Michel Foucault, Jean Khalfa (Editor), Jonathan Murphy (Translator)

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Member:brown.trout
Title:History of Madness
Authors:Michel Foucault
Other authors:Jean Khalfa (Editor), Jonathan Murphy (Translator)
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History of Madness by Michel Foucault

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Come la misura decisiva in una finale olimpica di salto con l’asta. Primo tentativo fallito miseramente, senza neppure arrivare all’asticella. Seconda prova migliore, ma comunque ostacolo abbattuto senza speranza. Resta il terzo salto, l’ultimo: perché con un ulteriore fallimento non ha senso andare avanti. Con il fondato timore di non essere all’altezza, ho affrontato nuovamente questo libro e sono riuscito ad arrivare alla fine: non è stata una passeggiata, l’asticella ha vibrato a lungo sui ritti, ma l’impresa è stata portata a termine. A ben vedere, il tema del libro non è la follia, quanto i folli e, soprattutto, l’atteggiamento della società nei loro confronti. Società che li tratta prima come colpevoli da rinchiudere e poi come deviati da recuperare senza mai saper affrontare una diversità che può anche essere, semplicemente, un’altra faccia di se stessi. Che la simpatia dell’autore vada soprattutto ai pazzi e per niente a chi li ha in cura è evidente, anche se a volte estrarre il nocciolo della questione dalle pagine non è per nulla facile: a parte il mostruoso bagaglio di conoscenze che Foucault sciorina ad ogni piè sospinto, è necessario districarsi in una scrittura a volte aggrovigliata, che magari scatta in avanti per poi tornare sugli stessi concetti ripetendoli più volte. Probabilmente è anche colpa di una traduzione un po’ vecchiotta, ma ci sono paragrafi che fan perdere la pazienza e rinunciare all’interpretazione. Sotto queste scorie c’è però un’analisi lucida ed appassionata che usa la base storica per tutta una serie di considerazioni che coinvolgono, psicologia, antropologia, filosofia, medicina (impagabili le analisi settecentesche a base di umori e vapori) e che consentono una rappresentazione a tutto tondo dell’argomento. Il libro si chiude all’alba della psicanalisi: come tutte le pagine difficili ma significative, per il lettore è difficile passare oltre. ( )
  catcarlo | Oct 8, 2014 |
I have made a selection from the first chapter of this text, combining both translations, along with a gallery of images here: http://ahistoryofthepresentananthology.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/the-history-of-ma... ( )
  Michael-Bibby | Mar 10, 2013 |
I agree with Cthulhu's review. This is also interesting as it is Foucault's dissertation work. One can definitely see the development of Foucault's thought in this book. ( )
1 vote EThorelli | Mar 15, 2011 |
A fascinating, if rather long book on Foucault's account of the ideas, practices, insitutions, art and literature relating to madness from the end of the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, onwards through the 'Classical Age' of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries ending in the modern age, with what Foucault terms the 'birth of the asylum'.

Foucault has been heavily criticised for not potraying a historically accurate visage of madness since the Middle Ages, yet this was something Foucault was not attempting to do. Instead of presenting the empirical history of madness, this book addresses how the concept of madness is understood throughout the ages, and how our modern conception of madness is historically dependent.

Well worth a read for anyone interested in epistemological philosophy, and/or the history of psychiatry ( )
2 vote Cthulhu | Jan 18, 2007 |
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This edition of "Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique", translated into English as "History of Madness" is COMPLETE. Please do NOT combine with the ABRIDGED English edition, published as "Madness and Civilization".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415477263, Paperback)

When it was first published in France in 1961 as Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la Folie à l'âge Classique, few had heard of a thirty-four year old philosopher by the name of Michel Foucault. By the time an abridged English edition was published in 1967 as Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault had shaken the intellectual world.

This translation is the first English edition of the complete French texts of the first and second edition, including all prefaces and appendices, some of them unavailable in the existing French edition.

History of Madness begins in the Middle Ages with vivid descriptions of the exclusion and confinement of lepers. Why, Foucault asks, when the leper houses were emptied at the end of the Middle Ages, were they turned into places of confinement for the mad? Why, within the space of several months in 1656, was one out of every hundred people in Paris confined?

Shifting brilliantly from Descartes and early Enlightenment thought to the founding of the Hôpital Général in Paris and the work of early psychiatrists Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke, Foucault focuses throughout, not only on scientific and medical analyses of madness, but also on the philosophical and cultural values attached to the mad. He also urges us to recognize the creative and liberating forces that madness represents, brilliantly drawing on examples from Goya, Nietzsche, Van Gogh and Artaud.

The History of Madness is an inspiring and classic work that challenges us to understand madness, reason and power and the forces that shape them.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:24 -0400)

Challenging entrenched views of madness and reason, History of Madness is one of the classics of 20th century thought. It is Foucaults first major work, written in a dazzling and sometimes enigmatic literary style. It also introduces many of the inspiring and radical themes that he was to write about throughout his life, above all the nature of power and social exclusion. History of Madness begins in the Middle Ages with vivid descriptions of the exclusion and confinement of lepers. Why Foucault asks, when the leper houses were emptied at the end of the Middle Ages, were they turned into places of confinement for the mad? Why, within the space of several months in 1656, was one out of every hundred people in Paris confined? Foucaults bold and controversial answer is that throughout modern history, madness has meant isolation, repression and exclusion. Even the Enlightenment, which attempted to educate and include the mad, ended up imprisoning them in a moral world. As Foucault famously declared to a reporter from Le Monde in 1961, ?Madness exists only in society. It does not exist outside the forms of sensibility that isolate it, and the form of repulsion that expel it or capture it.? Shifting brilliantly from Descartes and early Enlightenment thought to the founding of the Hopital General in Paris and the work of philanthropists and early psychiatrists such as Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke, Foucault focuses throughout not only on the philosophical and cultural values attached to the mad. He also urges us to recognize the creative forces that madness represents, drawing on examples from Goya, Nietzsche, Van Gogh and Artaud. History of Madness is an inspiring and classic work that challenges up to understand madness, reason and power and the forces that shape them. Also includes information on alienation, animal spirits, asylums, Hieronymus Bosch, brain, burning at the stake, Christ and symbolism, classical age, confinement, convulsions, crime, delirium, dementia, dreams, alienation and exclusion, fear, God, hallucinations, hospitals, houses of confinement, houses of correction, hysteria, the insane, lunatics, mania, melancholy, mind, morality, positivism, prisons, poverty, punishment, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, sin, soul, suicide, symbolism, treatments, vapours, venereal disease, water, wisdom, witchcraft, women, work, workhouses, etc.… (more)

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