The Meaning of Madness, by Neel Burton
ISBN 978-0-9560353-0-1, RPR £14.99
Published November 2008
Buy it here
Winner of the BMA Young Authors’ Award
This book proposes to open up the debate on mental disorders, to get people interested and talking, and to get them thinking. For example, what is schizophrenia? Why is it so common? Why does it affect human beings and not animals? What might this tell us about our mind and body, language and creativity, music and religion? What are the boundaries between mental disorder and 'normality'? Is there a relationship between mental disorder and genius? These are some of the difficult but important questions that this book confronts, with the overarching aim of exploring what mental disorders can teach us about human nature and the human condition.
A riveting read for anyone looking for a window into the world of mental disorder...
- Professor Robert Howard, Dean, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Most books on mental disorder are either polemical or over-technical. This remarkable book by contrast provides a highly readable and at the same time authoritative account that, by combining literary, philosophical and scientific sources, shows the deep connections between 'madness' and some of our most important attributes as human beings.
- Professor Bill Fulford, University of Oxford
An interesting way of looking at things, and one that puts a positive spin on illnesses which are usually portrayed as being nothing but negative.
- Oxford Times
This book is a delight... there is no circumlocution or obliqueness, and the surgical efficiency with which the subjects are addressed makes for maximum comprehension... a really accessible and thorough approach to a complex and often impenetrable subject.
- British Neuroscience Association
Burton somehow avoids oversimplification. This is all the more remarkable, since his scope is fairly all-embracing, switching smoothly from side-effects of lithium to the nature of existential anxiety, to the quest for meaning in life... His writing is frequently almost poetic, yet he is capable of being crisply definitive... Ultimately this is a work of contradictions – an undemanding read that could challenge your view of the world.
- Medical Journalists’ Association
This book is packed with striking insights... [Burton’s] passion and enthusiasm for the subject never slips.
- Remedy Magazine
'The Meaning of Madness' engages with the reader's own hopes, fears, and prejudices - highly worthwhile edu-tainment.
- British Journal of General Practice
The specific purpose of this young author is to try and demystify the stigma of mental illness. He succeeds brilliantly, not only in explaining different types of mental illness in relatively simple terms, but also in the breadth of understanding he brings to aspects of life outside the mental straightjacket.
- British Medical Association