The Madness of Prince Hamlet: And Other Delusions and Extraordinary States of Mind

Overview

Among this stimulating book's questions and surprising answers, The Madness of Prince Hamlet asks, Was the Prince of Denmark suffering from Ganser Syndrome (also known as the syndrome of the almost correct answer)? Whether analyzing the tics of Tourettes's Syndrome, male phantom pregnancy, or "demonic possession" or explicating the extremes of ordinary behavior such as love, anger, or jealousy, Dr. Robert Youngson astonishes, entertains, and informs readers about the ...

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Overview

Among this stimulating book's questions and surprising answers, The Madness of Prince Hamlet asks, Was the Prince of Denmark suffering from Ganser Syndrome (also known as the syndrome of the almost correct answer)? Whether analyzing the tics of Tourettes's Syndrome, male phantom pregnancy, or "demonic possession" or explicating the extremes of ordinary behavior such as love, anger, or jealousy, Dr. Robert Youngson astonishes, entertains, and informs readers about the extraordinary processes of the mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
According to Youngson, •a little learning is a delightful thing,• and it•s a point he demonstrates repeatedly in this engaging and opinionated compendium of essays on the amazing peculiarities of the human mind. Youngson, a former department head in the British Army Medical Service, aims to provoke as well as to entertain and enlighten. Among those sure to be offended are believers in homeopathy (his example of mass delusional insanity); British psychiatrists, whose tidying-up function he equates more with that of the police and the judiciary than that of the medical profession; the Roman Catholic Church, which he criticizes for giving respectability to a superstitious belief, i.e., demonic possession; and Freudians, for his description of Freud as •not in any sense a scientist,• but a creative literary man and psychoanalysis as a pseudoscience. These erudite essays, which are filled with literary and historical examples and personal observations, are mostly quite short and needn•t be read in any particular order, which makes this work perfect for casual browsing. There are nearly 60 essays, and the range of topics is enormous•nymphomania, déjà vu, phantom pregnancy, brainwashing, Ganser syndrome (simulated madness, à la Hamlet), hypnotic states, amnesia, autism, hypochondria, idiot savants, belief in alien abductions, multiple personalities•plus a series of pieces on the minds of criminals, mathematicians, musicians, writers, and the aging. Appropriately enough, the final one is on the dying mind, which introduces the question of near-death experiences. Throughout, skeptic Youngson is a skilled debunker and a greater detector of irrationality, but heacknowledges that for most people, there is simply too much science around and not enough mystery. Psychology 101 was never such great fun.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786706242
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/1999
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.77 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
The madness of Prince Hamlet 1
Of love: delusional psychosis 4
Of ghosts and genitals: koro 8
The shaking horrors: delirium tremens 11
Destruction of a personality: general paralysis of the insane 15
Of sexual insatiability: satyriasis and nymphomania 19
Of the diversity of schizophrenia: flexibilitas cerea et al 24
Character assassination: Raspe and Munchhausen's syndrome 31
Compulsive coprolalia: Gilles de la Tourette syndrome 39
So near and yet so far: frotteurism 42
The mind of the offended: punishment for crime 45
Infectious insanity: folie a deux 47
All gone: Cotard syndrome 49
Of elation, sadness and the Amish: cyclothymic states 52
The celebrated Hahnemann delusion: homoeopathy 56
Delusional double: Capgras' syndrome 62
Of exorbitant empathy: male morning sickness 68
Phantom lover: erotomania 72
The mind in the wrong body: trans-sexualism 74
Phantom pregnancy: pseudocyesis 79
A mind possessed: demonic possession 82
The mind of Sigmund Freud: pseudoscience 90
Of superstition: credulity, crassness or culture? 97
The mind of the musician: nature or nurture? 104
Child sexual abuse: the mind of the paedophile 111
Unacceptable body image: self-mutilation 115
Of sexual jealousy: Othello syndrome 117
Universal self-delusion: defence mechanisms 124
The mind of a twin: mental identity 129
Of social isolation: autism 133
I have been here before: deja vu 138
Compromising with unreason: mass delusional insanity 142
Tarantella: the dancing mania 147
The mind in a mob: collective ignorance 151
The mind of the criminal: sociopathy 157
Of saints and sexuality: sanctity and self-abuse 163
Of Sade and Masoch: the S-M story 171
The mind of the medium: a conduit to the other world? 175
Seeking a better life: the fugue state 180
Divided minds: multiple personality 185
Divided brains: cutting of the corpus callosum 190
Human as machine: automatism 195
Of the deadly dread of disease: hypochondriasis 202
Mind manipulated: the hypnotic state 207
Of faith and fossils: what is truth? 212
Alien abduction: all in the mind? 219
The absent mind: persistent vegetative state 224
The creative mind: inspiration or perspiration? 231
The chromatic mind: colour associations 237
The mind of the writer: doing it in the unconscious 242
The prejudiced mind: shades of Chauvin 247
Conformity enforced: the brainwashed mind 253
The mind of the mathematician: uncertainty rules 257
The intelligent mind: the savant phenomenon 262
Seeing into the mind: introspection 270
The ageing mind: eugeria rules 277
The dying mind: the cortex gives up 286
Bibliography 291
Index 294
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