Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness

Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness

by Roy Richard Grinker
Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness

Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness

by Roy Richard Grinker


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A Guardian Best Book of 2021

A compassionate and captivating examination of evolving attitudes toward mental illness throughout history and the fight to end the stigma.

For centuries, scientists and society cast moral judgments on anyone deemed mentally ill, confining many to asylums. In Nobody’s Normal, anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma—from the eighteenth century, through America’s major wars, and into today’s high-tech economy.

Nobody’s Normal argues that stigma is a social process that can be explained through cultural history, a process that began the moment we defined mental illness, that we learn from within our communities, and that we ultimately have the power to change. Though the legacies of shame and secrecy are still with us today, Grinker writes that we are at the cusp of ending the marginalization of the mentally ill. In the twenty-first century, mental illnesses are fast becoming a more accepted and visible part of human diversity.

Grinker infuses the book with the personal history of his family’s four generations of involvement in psychiatry, including his grandfather’s analysis with Sigmund Freud, his own daughter’s experience with autism, and culminating in his research on neurodiversity. Drawing on cutting-edge science, historical archives, and cross-cultural research in Africa and Asia, Grinker takes readers on an international journey to discover the origins of, and variances in, our cultural response to neurodiversity.

Urgent, eye-opening, and ultimately hopeful, Nobody’s Normal explains how we are transforming mental illness and offers a path to end the shadow of stigma.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393531640
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/26/2021
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 1,124,236
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Roy Richard Grinker is professor of anthropology and international affairs at the George Washington University. He is the author of several books, including Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. He lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Introduction The Road Out of Bedlam xiii

Part 1 Capitalism

Chapter 1 Every Man for Himself 3

Chapter 2 The Invention of Mental Illness 24

Chapter 3 The Divided Body 38

Chapter 4 The Divided Mind 55

Chapter 9 From the Forgotten War to Vietnam 141

Chapter 10 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 155

Chapter 11 Expectations of Sickness 171

Part 3 Body and Mind

Chapter 12 Telling Secrets 189

Chapter 13 An Illness Like Any Other? 213

Chapter 14 "Like a Magic Wand" 236

Chapter 15 When the Body Speaks 260

Chapter 16 Bridging Body and Mind in Nepal 275

Chapter 17 The Dignity of Risk 292

Conclusion On the Spectrum 319

Acknowledgments 331

Notes 335

Index 383

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