Madness: American Protestant Responses to Mental Illness

Heather H. Vacek (Author)

Product Details

Baylor University Press
Publish Date
August 01, 2015
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.0 inches | 1.3 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Heather H. Vacek is Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Faculty, and Assistant Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.


I recommend this book, and especially its final chapter, to pastors and church leaders who are seeking to reflect on and develop a congregation's ministry among people with mental illnesses, whether they be church members or strangers. It will also appeal to readers with an interest in the history of American mental health attitudes and practices, or, more generally, the history of Christian influences on American society.

--Christine Guth "Anabaptist Disabilities Network "

In sum, Vacek combines top-notch historical inquiry with a concern for effective theological responses to mental suffering. She carefully contextualizes the lives of her subjects in relation to broad religious and medical trends, and her in-depth biographical studies facilitate insightful, comparative analysis. The book is accessible to a broad audience and represents an excellent addition to the growing scholarly literature addressing the intersection of religion, medicine, and healing.

--Joseph Williams "Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences "

Vacek's book serves as an important reminder of how conceptions of mental illness and the structure of care for the mentally ill has a long and complicated history, shaped by everything from religious reformers, the emerging field of professionalized medicine, and the evolution of often grossly underfunded state institutions.

--David Eagle "Sociology of Religion "

A text that will be read profitably both within the academic community and outside it.

--Jeremy Bonner "Journal of Ecclesiastical History "

Vacek has written a scholarly jeremiad in which she has weighed her co-religionists' responses to mental illness in the moral balance and found them wanting. The organization of the book highlights what she persuasively argues is a perennial gap between belief and practice in her faith community...The prose is clear, the documentation thorough, and her stance heartfelt.

--Lawrence B. Goodheart "Bulletin of the History of Medicine "

Madness is a fine accomplishment, weaving together a theological point with historical analysis.

--Sean Cosgrove "Journal of Religious History "

This timely and deeply moving study has garnered wide media attention. It shows how American Protestants have addressed and, more often, failed to address mental illness in their congregations.

--The Christian Century

Vacek has written an important text for professors of pastoral counseling/clinical pastoral education and students in divinity and theological schools to disentangle church history and understand what it is they believe about the role of churches and clergy in the accompaniment of people with mental disabilities.

--Corrine C. Bertram "H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences "

... Madness is a fascinating read and of particular interest to historians, mental healthcare practitioners, and those researching the intersection between medicine and religion.

--E. Janet Warren "Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith "