Not that we have any choice. It feels as if it will never go on again. The first two thirds of this are really fairly good. This is not a simple matter of mind doctors spotting, shaping, naming - in a word, 'diagnosing' — or even suggesting an illness, though all that happens too. However, one gets the sense that the loose focus on women came only after the book was written, more as a suggestion from her editor to pare the tome down, rather than being the author's incipient specialization.
They have got through the danger points: adolescence with its dramatic ups and downs, its crises about identity and image, its inner chaos and uncertainties. But it is possible to make too much of hysteria as a tactic of feminist rebellion, or even as a tactic or imitation of seduction. Hers is a vastly researched, engrossing, and careful study that should be required reading for both medical students and those already practitioners in the field. Archived from on 13 February 2009. My mother, no lover of the game even when not in shattering pain, played. I wondered if I'd read the same section her comments followed at times.
The promise was held out that women's rise in the professions would change all this. A fascinating history of both womens'role and how women have been treated by the psychiatric and psychoanalytical professions as they have evolved. Her structure is approximately historical and only very approximately thematic; she raises questions as the stories she tells prompt them but stops short of committing herself to actual arguments or analyses. Then there are the gothic tales — true ones — of normal women, victims of family plots to seize their property, helpless to establish their sanity against the unfalsifiability of their diagnoses and broken by their treatment. Appignanesi's sources are wide-ranging but largely literary, based upon letters, diaries, articles and fiction from feminist writers such as Betty Friedan, historians like R. I am sure I should read this book again in order to retain the plethora of information that I was presented, as I must do with most dense information of this nature, and I look forward to it.
Today, we might want to question whether brain scans and neuro-chemistry, whatever else they may teach us, really do hold the keys to ultimate knowledge of the mind and its disorders. With John Forrester, I had explored some of this terrain in Freud's Women. That causes a change in my brain. Mad, Bad, and Sad takes us on a fascinating journey through the fragile, extraordinary human mind. She grew up in the province of Quebec - first in a small Laurentian town, subsequently in Montreal.
It would be hard to imagine a mental illness that better evinces the slippery interplay among fashion, delusion, diagnosis and treatment than anorexia, which announces itself with the appearance of following rather than defying social directives and which women embrace, as they did neurasthenia, as a mode of femininity, in this case to be slim rather than morbidly sensitive and enervated. But about nine years ago I was close to suicide again and found myself being taken into another hospital. Looking back, those two places did me a lot of good, in spite of the absence of real treatment. But as Appignanesi makes clear, women have had no little role in creating and fulfilling the definitions of their madness. It could perhaps have been reduced by about 25% in length without any loss of interest - indeed it would have benefited from a litlle pruning. Back when Zelda Fitzgerald, her skirts wet from diving into public fountains, was accelerating from madcap toward outright madness, a Wharton School economist named George Taylor made the seemingly fey observation that hemlines rose and fell with the stock market, proposing a causal connection between two presumably separate spheres of human enterprise. These non-lives would not, I suspect, have made for such a wonderfully enlightening and engaging book as this one.
It is the energy of her concerns with women, outsiders, storytelling and freedom that contains if only barely her unruly material. In 1967, she married Richard Appignanesi, another writer, with whom she had one son in 1975, Josh Appignanesi, a film director. To her credit, Appignanesi herself assesses Freud with a kind of radical coolness. I was looking for information on how the mental health profession has developed and the role women patients played in it. Most notable is her commenting on current psychotherapy, psychiatric medication prescription, and psychological testing, which se This text had promise. It seems that as soon as society relinquished witchcraft as the crime for which to punish an overtly liberated woman, it settled on madness as the reason to incarcerate her. Here too is the story of how over the years symptoms and diagnoses have developed together to create fashions in illness and how treatments have succeeded or sometimes failed.
Putting historical periods, old diagnoses and symptoms side by side might, some would imagine, give us a bright sense of the rise and rise of science and of our present medical and pharmaceutical miracles. I liked the way it moved through history, moving through different women and diagnoses. This enables her both to place much-discussed figures in a fresh context, that of the history of psychiatry, and also to offer pill-sugaringly vivid frames for telling that history. Well, it is about the woman mind. This is not, as Appignanesi emphasises, to deny that the diagnoses usually respond to real distresses; but to highlight an intractably self-perpetuating process, amplified today by the hugely profitable pharmaceuticals industry.
We have all been children and can remember a parent's or sibling's sudden rage - even, though less well, our own explosions. Appignanesi is careful not to idealise the culture which gave Mary Lamb a lifelong loophole. Furthermore, Appignanesi really seems to lack a kind of interest in--maybe even fondness for--women: she seems skeptical of their historical role as real victims of the Medical Man, and truly seems to blame the women's movement for the late 20th century's flaws in psychotherapy. Women's madness is theorised without being actualised, and that means that it feels to me like it lacks humanity. Only after the obsessive pursuit of emaciation betrays a subversive refusal to play by the rules of normality does anorexia reveal itself as flagrantly unstylish, an indictment of the very norms it pretended to satisfy. And back again in another two.
But, having been mis diagnosed, the pseudopatients found themselves unable to persuade the staff that they were sane. I would have liked to hear Appignanesi talk about what the women in her case studies actually did and said and might have felt; whether the actual or perceived dysfunctions had any basis or commonality despite the fashions in treatment; about what in life might have brought them to their symptoms or treatments. The last third is dire, deeply offensive and problematic - shockingly so. I'm in two minds about this book. This has a lot of good information and has very interesting topics that discuss the history of psychology and its relation to many of the women who were studied and therefore, the foundation of much of what psychology stands for today. Because Appignanesi has a complex story to tell there is no blaming at work in this wonderful book, but a shrewd and sympathetic apprehension of what is at stake in the difficult histories of both the Mind Doctors and those they seek to help.
For those who are truly suffering from depression, bi polar, schizophrenia, anorexia etc I am thankful that treatments seem to have improved over the years and hope that they continue to improve to help them. It is perhaps no surprise that an age in which the sum of information available in any given minute is larger than it has ever been in history should find a condition in which attention is at a deficit. She was a founding member and editorial director of the Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative. Most of us trust psychiatry to remain immune to fads. Other than that, it also had many interesting twists that sucked the reader into wanting more. This is the story of how we have understood mental disorders and extreme states of mind in women over the last two hundred years and how we conceive of them today, when more and more of our inner life and emotions have become a matter for medics and therapists.