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Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature Hardcover – September 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Global; First Edition edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713992492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713992496
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,136,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Madness Explained is a substantial, yet highly accessible work. Full of insight and humanity, it deserves a wide readership.' -- The Sunday Times

'Will give readers a glimpse both of answers to their own problems, and to questions about how the mind works' -- The Independent Magazine

About the Author

Richard P. Bentall holds a Chair in Experimental Clinical Psychology at the University of Manchester. In 1989 he received the British Psychological Society's May Davidson Award for his contribution to the field of Clinical Psychology.

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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An outstanding, research-based treatise exploring the precise mechanisms of mental illness, and the thin line separating "normal" from "abnormal" functioning. Bentall meticulously debunks the labels upon which the dominant understanding of mental illness rely, such as "schizophrenia" and "manic depression." Experiences such as delusions and voices are things to which we are all vulnerable, and Bentall explains just why and how this is so. I really enjoyed the chapters exploring research on depression, mania, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.

This book is a dense 640 pages, so it is not for the casual reader. For a lighter reading on much the same topics, I would also recommend Bentall's co-authored text, Models of Madness: Psychological, Social, and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia.

Postscript: Hot off the press is Bentall's new Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good?, which I highly recommend.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Steve Uhlig on January 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found this book very nice mainly because it demystifies the topic of madness. The book starts with a little of history about psychology, giving the reader enough context to build up a critical view of psychology. Throughout the book, the author tries to disentangle many biases in psychology and psychiatry to show that madness is not that bad, and that many behaviors we take as common are very close to that. The book is quite long and involved, i think it is its main drawback. However, it is worth reading as it provides a lot of examples of everyday behaviors that might easily lead to some form of madness. Personally, i cannot consider madness as being anything else tham simply a "socially annoying" thing. People considered as "mad" are sometimes less mad than supposedly normal persons, most people just don't want to try to understand them.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Wade on April 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Informative and in-depth, without being dry, stuffy and jargon-y like many psychology/psychiatry books are. Don't be intimidated by the size of this book, it's a very easy read and well-written. The author even manages to inject some humor every now and then. It's a great explaination of the theories and history of schizophrenia, bipolar and unipolar, with an emphasis on schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.

The author goes into detail about the history of psychology and psychiatry, and names a lot of people I've never heard of. We've all heard of Freud, but what about Kraepelin, Bleuler, Laing or Mosher?
I also like that the author gives a nod to the antipsychiatry movement, and has no holds barred about discussing the history of facism, the Nazi regime in psychiatry, and abuse of psych ward patients in history.

The thing I like most about this book is it humanizes people we would otherwise be inclined to write off and discard because they are 'insane'. This should be required reading for anyone studying psychology or psychiatry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Young on February 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Judging from the finished product, I'm guessing that Penguin ran a hard copy of the book through a scanner and then did minimal proof-reading. Sentences that probably spanned page breaks in the original are not rejoined in the electronic edition. Similarly, tables and charts are plopped down in the middle of sentences. Pretty shoddy work. I'm probably going to keep it, because the content is that good, but shame on Penguin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Cheung on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Totalling only 500 pages, you cannot expect this book to be completely comprehensive but the author has presented his view most adequately. He makes a very strong case, with tons of evidence (close to 100 pages of bibliography), that a person's life experience (e.g. trauma, a critical and therefore unsupportive social milieu including one's family) can increase the risk of abnormal emtional responses which in turn can in some individuals lead to abnormal ideations (e.g. paranoia and other forms of delusions). Abnormal ideations and abnormal emotions can potentially lead to dysfunctional communication (e.g. the so-called "word salad"). The extreme forms of such abnormalities are called madness. However, one should note that "madness" is the end of a contiuum: Think about the Delphic Oracle, how should we "classify" such a phenomenon?

Whilst there may be some truths in the genetic predisposition to madness, simple statistics show conclusively that it is easily drawfed by "nurture". Since the brain is plastic, providing support to people suffering from "madness" is the most humane and perhaps logically way to treat and help sufferers of "madness". Whereas medications are needed in some situations, alternative avenues (e.g. CBT) need to be explored, particularly when evidence supporting other approaches is mounting.

As a practising medical specialist myself who have to treat patients with concurrent psychiatric conditions, I find this book most enlightening and inspiring. Its humanity shines throughout. Five stars.
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