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The Invisible Plague: The Rise of mental Illness from 1750 to the Present Hardcover – January 10, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; 1 edition (January 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813530032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813530031
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on August 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a delightful read. It is a fascinating trip back through history on a thought provoking topic, and the authors present their view in a scholarly manner. There is enough anecdotal information to keep it moving and interesting, and it is far from being "dry". If you have even a casual interest in the rise of mental illness in Britain and North America you'll definitely enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
_The Invisible Plague_ is written by psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey and examines the issue of the increase in worldwide cases of insanity since the eighteenth century. The book is at once both a scientific study which attempts to explain certain statistical data from different parts of the world, including Europe, the United States, and Canada, as well as a history of the mental asylum. Torrey examines in particular the issue of insanity and it's two principal forms - that of schizophrenia and that of manic-depressive psychosis. He also examines the role of insanity within literature, examining writings of such figures as Edgar Allen Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, among others of course. Data from successive censuses taken in various countires seem to support Torrey's conclusions that insanity is indeed increasing, though with the era of deinstitutionalization this becomes more difficult to prove. Thus, according to Torrey, this issue may be covered up, because where formerly patients were admitted to asylums today they are not. Explanations for this increase have traditionally varied. Torrey also discusses some of the theories as to the causes of insanity - all biological, including genetics, stress, and environmental factors, as well as toxins and microbes in the environment. While the warnings in this book may appear alarmist, this book offers an informative introduction to the issue of insanity, which continues to plague the modern world despite its ancient origins. As a history text this book is good in that it reveals some of the developments which were responsible for the birth of modern day psychiatry and the state mental institution or asylum. Perhaps we can see in insanity, a reflection of the larger struggles of civilization as it makes its way from its birth pangs in ancient times, to its growth development, and eventual old age and decline.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating review of the history of mental illness for periods of time that are usually rather hard to research. I cannot speak for the accuracy since I am not a historian and I do not have the resource library to check out it's references, but it seems quite reasonable and well researched. I enjoyed the book for the thoughts it provoked and how it filled in gaps about the development of the notions of mental illness over the last several hundred years. This book has been the key to many intreguing disucssions.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. E. Fuller Torrey does excellent research and gives extensive information on the life and times of the maltreatment of the mentally ill. Very good book. I recommend this to anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness or has family members suffering from a mental illness.
This book shows me that the mentally ill are still treated like a human zoo just like they were back in the times of Bedlam in London. Just look at the movies and tv news reports....the public is made to fear mental illness instead of understand it.
Dr. Torrey's book tries to break down the walls of stigma and ddiscrimination to educate people.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite the fanciful cover, this is a very serious book. It attempts to make the reader aware of how insanity is increasing since the 18th century. With the Zika virus now, we can visually see the effects of an organism on the prenatal brain. The March of Dimes has taken a leadership role in making the case for prevention. One sees the forces of financial control in the U S Congress digging in their heels. We will see what will be done about Zika.

Dr. Torrey had devoted his life to mental illness. The March of Dimes is starting to make the case for prevention.
Articles about the mentally ill are abundantly found in newspapers and magazines. We just need to find the exact mechanism that goes awry. But that too will be found. Hopefully then the March of Dimes will show its full wonderful force. We will see the forces of the U S Congress dig in, but too much has happened. We will then see a reprint of THE INVISIBLE PLAGUE. It will have a serious cover, because those of us with mental illness know we are dealing with tragic stuff.

Luanne Holsinger
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Format: Hardcover
This book reviews in detail how mental illness has been evolving over the years. There is minimal attention given to causes or ideas about what is leading to the increase in cases of mental illness until the very end of the book and then it is a cursory list without much discussion.
I found it most disappointing.
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