Monday, April 07, 2008

Pg. 99: Lisa Appignanesi's "Mad, Bad and Sad"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Lisa Appignanesi's, Mad, Bad, and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brave and brilliantly researched intellectual history of the relationship between women and mental illness since 1800.

This is the story of how we have understood extreme states of mind over the last two hundred years and how we conceive of them today, from the depression suffered by Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath to the mental anguish and addictions of iconic beauties Zelda Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. From Mary Lamb, sister of Charles, who in the throes of a nervous breakdown turned on her mother with a kitchen knife, to Freud, Jung, and Lacan, who developed the new women-centered therapies, Lisa Appignanesi’s research traces how more and more of the inner lives and emotions of women have become a matter for medics and therapists. Here too is the story of how over the years symptoms and diagnoses have developed together to create fashions in illness and how treatments have succeeded or sometimes failed. Mad, Bad, and Sad takes us on a fascinating journey through the fragile, extraordinary human mind.
Among the praise for the book:
"The triumph of Mad, Bad and Sad is to mix ... evocative case studies with potted histories of the great and good of psychology and psychiatry. Without wanting to sound too glib about an intelligent and academically rigorous study, this book is an excellent one-stop shop for those wanting to find Freud, Lacan and Melanie Klein among the same pages as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Wurtzel. There is an attractive mix of the everyday and the clinical."
--Viv Groskop, Guardian

"There is some wonderful writing here and plenty of sharp insights.... Lisa Appignanesi has said it is the book she has been writing all her life. It is also, in many ways, the book we have been waiting for."
--New Statesman

"Endlessly fascinating"
--Independent on Sunday

"Informative in startling ways, and never dull in the academic way, Appignanesi's genuinely new History of the Mind Doctors is a subtle and accessible account of that perhaps most daunting of modern relationships, the one between the Mind Doctor and his female patient. Because Appignanesi has a complex story to tell there is no blaming at work in this wonderful book, but a shrewd and sympathetic apprehension of what is at stake in the difficult histories of both the Mind Doctors and those they seek to help. It is a remarkable achievement."
--Adam Phillips

"Marvellous. At last! A serious, well-researched book on this important subject."
--Pamela Stephenson

"[A]n intelligent and academically rigorous study."
Read more about Mad, Bad, and Sad at the publisher's webpage, and visit Lisa Appignanesi's official website.

Lisa Appignanesi is a novelist and writer who has been made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her contribution to literature. She is president of English PEN.

The Page 99 Test: Mad, Bad, and Sad.

--Marshal Zeringue