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Madness: The Invention of an Idea (Harper Perennial Modern Thought) 11183rd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0062007186
ISBN-10: 0062007181
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Compelling and highly influential, Michel Foucault's Madness is an indispensable work for readers who wish to understand the intellectual evolution of one of the most important social theorists of the twentieth century.

Written in 1954 and revised in 1962, Madness delineates the profound shift that occurred in Foucault's thought during this period. The first iteration reflects the philosopher's early interest in and respect for Freudian theory and the psychoanalytic tradition. The second part marks a dramatic change in Foucault's thinking. Examining the history of madness as a social and cultural construct, he moves into a radical critique of Freud and toward the postmodern deconstruction that was to dominate and define his later work.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harper Perennial Modern Thought
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 11183rd edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062007181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062007186
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one of the earliest book of Michel Foucault. His ideas of power/knowdlege are not the central point of this text (for they are developed later in his works) but you can start to feel them. This book is about psychology and psychiatry and how those disciplines derived their methods from biology and medical pathology and it's consecuences on psychological theories.

This book plays with the notion of contradiction and the notion of paradox within the human psyche. In this book, Foucault offers a solution for the way that psychology should "diagnose" and produce theory for "mental illnes". He also analyzes the notion of mental illness and the medical discourse that makes posible to use such incorrect or paradoxical notions.

This is a GREAT book.
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Published in 1954, the first section of this volume was Foucault's first stand-alone book publication (he also published a long essay attached to a translation of Ludwig Binswanger's Dream and Existence about the same time.) The 1954 section of this book is something of a brief textbook, offering a quick overview of some of the ways mental illness had come to be classed and understood, in terms of evolutionary constructs and through reference to an individual's history. The later sections of the first section take us through a rather good synopsis of Anna Freud's classification of defense mechanisms and conclude with Foucault speaking for phenomenological perspectives on how the mentally ill patient experiences his body, space and time. This chapter shows Foucault taking on Heideggerean language as his own.

The second section, which is shorter, is from 1962. It was published after the History of Madness was completed and reflects the findings and approach of that large volume. So it can be read as a good introduction to History of Madness in some respects. Interestingly, it does not dismiss the earlier work, it really just adds an extra dimension and a different level of consideration.

The dual nature of this volume, tying together Foucault's early work in psychology with his budding Archaeological perspective, is rather interesting. I've found it to be an interesting read.

(Note that the "Madness" title is a new addition of the publishers, but it does look cooler than the old models, dunnit?)
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Format: Paperback
Foucault has always interested me. This book is a hard read. It is an early book. It is a thin book. It takes a few days to chew through. The fairly accurate one sentence summary is: The definition of being normal relative to being mentally ill reflects philosophy more than psychiatry. Recommended.
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This text contains two seemingly disparate moments in the development of Foucault's thought. The first part contains an argument for the necessity of phenomenological understanding of 'mental illnesses' (like that of Binswanger) in which he is critical of psychoanalysis and evolutionary accounts of mental illness, yet still sees a place for these accounts in a multilevel analysis of an individual's condition. The second part contains what becomes an outline of his work in "History of Madness." He argues that mental illness is the contemporary manifestation of madness, that which is excluded as unreason in an age of reason. This second section is especially helpful for readers who would like an introduction to Foucault's thought on mental illness before diving into the massive tome that is History of Madness.
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Format: Paperback
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, and social theorist and activist; he wrote many books, such as Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, The Birth of the Clinic, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self, etc. Openly gay [see the James Miller biography, The Passion of Michel Foucault], he died of AIDS---the first “public figure” in France to die of the virus.

The Foreword to the California Edition of this book acknowledges, “Clearly, Foucault did not like the book.
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