Andrew Scull, Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine (Thames & Hudson).

'Civilization', the other noun in Scull's title, also invites of the reader a healthy dose of doubt. The title is perhaps intended as a reference to the history of debate on whether or not insanity increased or decreased over the centuries, rather than to display the writer's own assumption (in the manner of, say, Kenneth Clark in his celebrated television series and book Civilisation) that certain societies definitely deserve our approbation. Given the desperate history of abuses that this book explores, the title might rather evoke a remark, attributed to Gandhi, after an inquiry into his opinion of 'Western civilisation': 'I think it would be a good idea.' Daniel Pick, literaryreview.

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