Mind, Modernity, Madness: The Impact of Culture on Human Experience


Product Details

Publish Date
6.8 X 9.3 X 2.0 inches | 2.45 pounds

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About the Author

Liah Greenfeld is University Professor and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology, Boston University.

Author's home: Boston, MA


Liah Greenfeld has written a book of weight (figuratively and literally) and power. It is an avalanche that pulls the reader with it into a new landscape.--Charles Lindholm, Boston University
Explaining madness in cultural terms is what makes Greenfeld's book so audacious. A classical parallel would be with Durkheim's attempt to explain suicide through sociological categories. Her reasoning is strong; the data extensive; the conclusions counterintuitive. The book represents a triumph of imaginative thought.--Peter Baehr, Lingnan University
What most distinguishes Greenfeld's model of the mind from so much else in the field is that she brings together biological and cultural approaches to mental illness inclusively rather than exclusively, in a way that enlarges rather than diminishes both. While accepting the biological reality of major mental illnesses, her analysis is focused not simply on the brain, in a reductive sense, but on the mind as a product of experience and learning as well as biology. Likewise, she applies cultural concepts to psychiatry not in the reductive, purely social-constructionist manner of Laing, Foucault, and Szasz, but so as to foster understanding of cultural and historical variations in the incidence and expression of mental illness that biology alone cannot explain.--Harold J. Bursztajn, M.D., Harvard Medical School
Mind, Modernity, Madness displays an astonishing level of research...Greenfeld's book most persuasively demonstrates the lack of consensus in the scientific community and beyond, over the causes, treatment and prevalence of schizophrenia and manic depression, both in America and worldwide...Liah Greenfeld's call for a broader understanding of the role of culture in the growth of the illnesses of schizophrenia and manic depression seems perfectly timed to join the debate over the balance between science and culture in the diagnosis and treatment of these complex illnesses.--Catherine McKenna "MAKE: A Literary Magazine" (6/1/2013 12:00:00 AM)
Greenfeld offers a sweeping, sociologically grounded theory of the relationship between madness, mind, and society...It is a significant contribution to understanding mental illness and the more general interplay between mind, self, and society.--S. C. Ward "Choice" (10/1/2013 12:00:00 AM)
[A] magnificent sweep of several fields...Those apt to gain most from Greenfeld's remarkable tome are biological psychiatrists, legislators, and community leaders. Physicians, behavioral scientists, futurists, parents, and academicians will find the read exhilarating and useful. Cultural psychiatrists, ethnopsychiatric investigators, and psychiatric epidemiologists--those least apt to realize totally new understandings--will still find their comprehensions expanded in unanticipated ways.--Joseph Westermeyer "American Journal of Psychiatry" (2/1/2014 12:00:00 AM)