Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder

Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder

by David Healy


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This provocative history of bipolar disorder illuminates how perceptions of illness, if not the illnesses themselves, are mutable over time.

Beginning with the origins of the concept of mania—and the term maniac—in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, renowned psychiatrist David Healy examines how concepts of mental afflictions evolved as scientific breakthroughs established connections between brain function and mental illness. Healy recounts the changing definitions of mania through the centuries, explores the effects of new terminology and growing public awareness of the disease on culture and society, and examines the rise of psychotropic treatments and pharmacological marketing over the past four decades. Along the way, Healy clears much of the confusion surrounding bipolar disorder even as he raises crucial questions about how, why, and by whom the disease is diagnosed.

Drawing heavily on primary sources and supplemented with interviews and insight gained over Healy's long career, this lucid and engaging overview of mania sheds new light on one of humankind's most vexing ailments.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421403977
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2011
Series: Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease
Edition description: 20
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Healy is a professor of psychiatry and the director of the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University. He is the author of several books on the history of psychopharmaceuticals, including Let Them Eat Prozac, The Antidepressant Era, and The Creation of Psychopharmacology.

Read an Excerpt

"That conceptual entity—and thus lived reality—we call bipolar disease today is peculiarly a product of our world. It is a world in which reductionist notions of disease have come to dominate our way of thinking about sickness. It is a world of bureaucratic categories and psychopharmaceutical practice. It is a world created in part by the laboratory’s accomplishments, but it is also a social world shaped in part by mass media and advertising, by corporate strategies and government policies. And, as is illustrated by highly visible contemporary debates over the problematic increase of bipolar diagnoses in children, it is shaped as well by the public contestation of such clinical judgments—decisions that are in theory individual, private, and objective.

"It is in this multidimensional sense that the subject of David Healy’s biography exists outside the bodies and emotions of any particular man, woman, or child. But these aggregated social, cultural, and institutional realities can and do intrude into very real bodies and minds. Healy never lets us forget the men, women, and children who feel emotional pain and incapacity no matter how much such disquieting experience is modified by drugs and ideology, by business plans and bureaucratic rationalities, by professional strategies and rewards. His subject is both timeless and timely, situated in social and cultural space, yet anchored implacably in the idiosyncratic circumstantiality of particular lives."—Charles E. Rosenberg, from the Foreword

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Charles E. Rosenberg
Preface: Stories about Mania
1. Frenzy and Stupor
2. Circling the Brain
3. Circular Madness
4. The Stone of Madness
5. The Eclipse of Manic-Depressive Disorder
6. Branded in the USA
7. The Latest Mania
8. The Engineers of Human Souls
Coda: The Once and Future Laboratory

What People are Saying About This

Gerald N. Grob

A distinct and powerful view of the history of psychiatry that arouses controversy in the best sense of the word. Healy's discussion of the role of drug companies is especially right on the mark.

Gerald N. Grob, Ph.D., Henry E. Sigerist Professor of the History of Medicine Emeritus at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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