×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present
     

Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present

by E. Fuller Torrey, Judy Miller
 
Insanity, in one guise or another, has always been with us, an occasional, unbidden guest at life’s masquerade. In recent centuries, however, it has appeared in previously unseen masks and in much greater numbers. The prevalence of insanity, which had once been considerably less than one case per 1,000 total population, has risen beyond five cases in 1,000. Why has

Overview

Insanity, in one guise or another, has always been with us, an occasional, unbidden guest at life’s masquerade. In recent centuries, however, it has appeared in previously unseen masks and in much greater numbers. The prevalence of insanity, which had once been considerably less than one case per 1,000 total population, has risen beyond five cases in 1,000. Why has insanity reached epidemic proportions? What are the causes of severe mental illness? Why do we continue to deny the rising numbers, and how does this denial affect our ability to help those who are afflicted?

In The Invisible Plague, E. Fuller Torrey and Judy Miller examine the records on insanity in England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States over a 250-year period, concluding, through both qualitative and quantitative evidence, that insanity is an unrecognized, modern-day plague. Their conclusion is based on demographic data, the writings of psychiatrists, and numerous literary sources. This book is a unique and major contribution to medical history. Until now, insanity, and its apparent rise over the centuries, has been interpreted as a socially and economically driven phenomenon. The present authors insist upon the biological reality of insanity and examine the reasons why epidemic insanity has been so profoundly misunderstood. The book concludes with descriptions of the possible biological causes of insanity.

By failing to understand insanity as an epidemic, we fail to appreciate its role in, for example, the Salem witch trials, the eugenics movement, and the mental hygiene movement, and its important effects on modern literature. We also fail to fully understand and address contemporary tragedies of the epidemic, such as the number of individuals with schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness who are homeless or in jails.

About the Authors:
E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., is a research psychiatrist, executive director of the Stanley Foundation, and professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He has published sixteen books including Surviving Schizophrenia and The Roots of Treason, nominated by the National Book Critics Circle as one of 1983’s best five biographies. Judy Miller is a senior research assistant working with Torrey.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
In their refreshing, thoroughly documented, cogent reply to the current generally accepted interpretation of the incidence and even the existence of insanity, Torrey and Miller point out many holes in the arguments of other recent historians of the subject and don’t push any single approach to schizophrenia and manic depression. Instead, they ask for a spirit of inquiry because so much about the rate of growth and the causes of mental illness remains unclear. . . . There is enough history of diagnosis and treatment in the U.S., England, Ireland, and Canada to fascinate readers whose favorite topics isn’t numbers. . . . Frequent reference to literary works and authors lightens the tone of the proceedings, as does the authors’ hypothesis of a relationship between the wearing of stockings and the incidence of insanity.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813530031
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
12/28/2001
Pages:
438
Product dimensions:
6.56(w) x 9.44(h) x 1.34(d)

What People are Saying About This

Gerald N. Grob
Important and provocative. By insisting on the biological reality of insanity, the authors pose a major challenge to the current tendency to view concepts of mental illness and mental institutions as a means of incarcerating unproductive individuals and enforcing capitalist hegemony.--(Gerald N. Grob, author of The Mad among Us: A History of the Care of America’s Mentally Ill)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews