Madness Is Civilization: When The Diagnosis Was Social, 1948-1980

Paperback | October 10, 2014

byMichael E. Staub

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In the 1960s and 1970s, a popular diagnosis for America’s problems was that society was becoming a madhouse. In this intellectual and cultural history, Michael E. Staub examines a time when many believed insanity was a sane reaction to obscene social conditions, psychiatrists were agents of repression, asylums were gulags for society’s undesirables, and mental illness was a concept with no medical basis.

Madness Is Civilization explores the general consensus that societal ills—from dysfunctional marriage and family dynamics to the Vietnam War, racism, and sexism—were at the root of mental illness. Staub chronicles the surge in influence of socially attuned psychodynamic theories along with the rise of radical therapy and psychiatric survivors' movements. He shows how the theories of antipsychiatry held unprecedented sway over an enormous range of medical, social, and political debates until a bruising backlash against these theories—part of the reaction to the perceived excesses and self-absorptions of the 1960s—effectively distorted them into caricatures. Throughout, Staub reveals that at stake in these debates of psychiatry and politics was nothing less than how to think about the institution of the family, the nature of the self, and the prospects for, and limits of, social change.

 The first study to describe how social diagnostic thinking emerged, Madness Is Civilization casts new light on the politics of the postwar era.

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In the 1960s and 1970s, a popular diagnosis for America’s problems was that society was becoming a madhouse. In this intellectual and cultural history, Michael E. Staub examines a time when many believed insanity was a sane reaction to obscene social conditions, psychiatrists were agents of repression, asylums were gulags for societ...

Michael Staub is professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York, and the author of Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:October 10, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022621463X

ISBN - 13:9780226214634

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Introduction

Part I: When the Diagnosis Was Social

Chapter 1: Society as the Patient

Chapter 2: Enough to Drive Anybody Crazy

Chapter 3: Suffering from Contingencies

Chapter 4: The Therapeutic State

Part II: The Revolution in Feeling

Chapter 5: The Insanity Trip

Chapter 6: Person Envy

Chapter 7: A Fashionable Kind of Slander

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

 “In Madness Is Civilization, Michael E. Staub provides a clear perspective of the scrutiny of psychiatric disorders in the mid-20th century by broadly reviewing the clinical, political, sociological, and community work of the protesting intellectuals who propelled the antipsychiatry and countercultural movements from 1948 to 1980. . . . Psychiatrists and anyone else struggling to understand how large segments of society can angrily discount one branch of medicine should read this book to better understand the history of antipsychiatry groups and the current manifestations of the antipsychiatry movement.”