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This is a great book to help you understand Lacan which is the main reason I bought it. I should say Leaders take on Lacan. Very clear and helpful. Explains the three ways (orders) to understand the human world - imaginary, symbolic and real. By keeping this limited to an application to psychosis, the reader can understand this clearly without getting bogged down in other applications (eg to hysteria, obsession, perversion, anxiety and sexuality). The application to Shipman was a revelation.
Sometimes the writing jars and the narrative wanders - but overall - highly informative and an eye opener
I was intrigued by positive reviews for a book which would seem to do itself no favours with its title question. 300 pages may be a long definition by dictionary standards, but explaining madness, like explaining consciousness or the size of the universe, in just one book seems like an impossible task.
Darian Leader guides his readers through his theories, the practice of which has clearly helped a number of his clients. The central theory posited - that psychosis is a combination of nature and nurture and can lay dormant for years or for a lifetime - sounds reasonable and is illustrated by several compelling examples. Leader's treatment of his clients relies on using their own attempts to find meaning, whether by a sustained delusion, use of language etc. which over time allows them to adjust and cope with their lives. His professional and human interest in those he helps is obvious, and he insists that treatment should not simply be aimed at stopping behaviour which might, rather than a symptom, be an attempt to relieve suffering.
He explains some of Freud's work in terms simple enough for the lay reader to grasp, but this lay reader, at least, remained slightly sceptical that Freud or even Lacan's size really does fit all. While the chapters on causes of psychosis and triggers of psychotic episodes seem thorough, I was left feeling that any number of not-unusual situations would produce madness, both the state of being and of going mad, in many children. This is not to say that I agree with the reviewer who felt that problems would be solved by better housing, more love etc. Psychosis is clearly quite distinct from melancholia or paranoia, or even neurosis. Leader's point is that psychotics don't have the basic elements, or building blocks, in place to deal with life situations because of a halt in development. He also admits that the constructs that help the psychotic are perhaps just more outlandish versions of the fantasies that help us all to cope with reality.
The absence of a fifth star is for two reasons: one is my lacking the knowledge to place this within the framework of current theories of mental health, and the other is that even if you advocate psychoanalysis for people with psychoses, the length of time needed in therapy would make it unlikely that most people could find either a therapist or the funds.
Remember seeing this when it first came out in hardback, but waited for the paperback edition. It's certainly a stimulating read, providing a recent psychoanalytic approach to psychosis. At times it is really convincing as Leader works backwards in peoples' lives to trace the triggers for breakdown, revealing key events or interpretations that contributed. However, every so often I found the idea that some mishap in the anal stage of development caused psychosis years later a bit of a stab in the dark, very reliant on the analyst being correct. Also interesting is a chapter on Dr Harold Shipman, again looking at patterns & events that might have explained his actions. A stimulating & creditable read on madness, at variance from the biomedical approach.
Compared to other books on madness, I just find this is waaay to heavy on the psychoanalytic approach. It is not inherently bad or wrong, each perspective has their points.. But.. Just, no.. id recommend another book if someone asked me. To use all the psychoanalytic words.. symbols.. and interpertations on something that is already abit far out, "mad", hard to perhaps understand, does not make it any easier.
As a counsellor and support worker mental health issues are something I know well, this book was rare as it explores not those who we would see in classic mental health setting but quiet madness. Those who in deep therapy would reveal lots of odd thoughts and beliefs yet can manage to navigate the world without people being aware of what troubles their minds. Thought provoking and interesting I actually bought this copy after reading a copy from the library as I know I'll want to read it again and refer back to it over time
Tough going. I get the gist but it would be nice to have some clarifying paragraphs to summarise. I know it is generally a discussion rather than text book but sometimes the jargon can be distracting. Id also like some examples that are more mundane, more usual rater than the very fractured persons. What about the mother who breaks down, the subtle madness where those people cannot exist with others.
Absolutely fascinating account of both the author's opinions and those of several others on what exactly constitutes madness, how, when and why it's being misdiagnosed and possible ways to combat this problem. Well-written and easy to read for the most part, but doesn't treat the reader like a fool either.
Just incredible, can't put it down. Reviews the prejudice surrounding the symptoms of mental illness and how this has governed and shaped the production of the drugs industry. Calls for a return to real analysis and sensitivity over blunt generic methodology.