Friday, December 26, 2008

A Book Review for the New Year

In 2009 a fellow psychiatrist's book will be on the shelves - ‘The Meaning of Madness’ by Dr Neel Burton. This book aims to explore what mental disorders can teach us about human nature and the human condition. For example, what is schizophrenia? Why is it so common? Why does it affect human beings and not animals? What might this tell us about mind and body, language and creativity, music and religion? What are the boundaries between mental disorder and ‘normality’? Is there a relationship between mental disorder and genius?

The book looks behind the usual categories to ask: why does this mental disorder exist and what adaptive or evolutionary advantage, if any, could it have? It’s an interesting way of looking at things, and one that puts a much needed positive spin on illnesses which are usually portrayed as being nothing but negative.

According to Professor Bill Fulford of Oxford University, ‘The Meaning of Madness’ contrasts from other books on mental disorder in that it neither polemical nor over-technical. Instead, it provides a highly readable and at the same time authoritative account that, by combining literary, philosophical, and scientific sources, shows the deep connections between ‘madness’ and some of most important attributes as human beings. The book’s central message that mental disorders are an expression of our deepest human nature is both important and timely, and one that can make a real difference to the perception, experience, and outcome of mental disorder.

Well done to Dr Neel Burton, it certainly makes an interesting read. Hot of the press it can be pre-ordered here.


Praguetory said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Off-topic, I was wondering if you had any thoughts vis-a-vis this.

simon said...

I have a son who was diagnosed with asbergers. At 22 years of age he cannot look after himself in the basic areas of life eg cleaning his flat, buying food etc...

However,he is studying art and when you see the artwork he does it will blow you away.

I see a fine line between genious and crazy for real!

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Hi Praguetory
On your question what the Labour party have done to medical training...well, to put it in the words of a strictly come dancing judge "DISASTER!"
As for the GMC stepping in, I would have thought that they are there to discipline the doctors, not the government. I guess the electorate will have to wait their turn to let the government know what they think at the ballot box. Personally I can't wait for an election!

Simon - I totally agree that there is a fine line between genious and crazy (if there is a line at all). I am in awe of artistic talent.

Hope 2009 has started well for all.

simon said...

his work is incredible for real, (you should see it) but there is not much else.

Whats funny to see is, my 11 year old son is in some way more mature than him and they get on really well together.