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Madness and Civilization: A History of…

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

by Michel Foucault

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Four stars, I guess? I don't really know how to review something like this. There were several sections, including the conclusion, that I didn't feel I understood at all. And Foucault continues to frustrate me in the way that he seems deliberately obscure: while I certainly wouldn't say that he is dealing in simple concepts, they seem like they don't need to be as difficult as he is making them. But for all of its faults and quirks, this was a totally rewarding book. The idea that psychoanalysis deals not with the eternal structure of the human mind but rather with a set of complexes developing within the last few centuries of Western history was particularly fascinating to me. A brilliant book: maybe someday I'll actually read the entire History of Madness, but I doubt that it will be anytime soon! ( )
1 vote breadhat | Jul 23, 2013 |
Difficult to review because I wouldn't claim to have a clear understanding of everything that the author is attempting to communicate. It doesn't help that the syntax can be brutal, with quite a bit of humanities jargon. That being said, I found long sections interesting/provocative. His criticism of the evolving conceptualization of "madness" in western society is interesting and he makes a good argument that our modern understanding still rests largely on a foundation of metaphor rather than the objective, empirical basis we would like to believe. On the other hand, it seems to me that this is the same method he employs in examining the issue, making me wonder if he could have found anything else. It would be interesting to hear Foucault's thoughts on this same topic in the wake of the pharmacological revolution of the last few decades. ( )
  Brendan.H | Jul 21, 2013 |
Foucault is an brilliant Historian who charts the progress or lack of it of the treatment of the mentally ill. Read to be disturbed at how they were treated. ( )
  wonderperson | Mar 29, 2013 |
I have made a selection from the first chapter of this text, combining both translation, along with a gallery of images here: http://ahistoryofthepresentananthology.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/the-history-of-ma... ( )
  Michael-Bibby | Mar 10, 2013 |
Ugh...this book was thick! Luckily, though, there are some prize nuggets of psychological and philosophical history buried in there. Foucault does an excellent job of going through all the relevant source material, but his writing could use some loosening up...

http://lifelongdewey.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/362-madness-and-civilization-by-mi... ( )
  NielsenGW | Feb 2, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Foucaultprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barchilon, JoseIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This edition of "Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique", translated into English as "Madness and Civilization" is ABRIDGED. Please do NOT combine with the COMPLETE English edition, published as "History of Madness".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067972110X, Paperback)

Perhaps the French philosopher's masterpiece, which is concerned with an extraordinary question: What does it mean to be mad?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:02 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Examines insanity in the West from 1500 to 1800.

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