Mind, Modernity, Madness
The Impact of Culture on Human ExperienceeBook - 2013
It’s the American dream—unfettered freedom to follow our ambitions, to forge our identities, to become self-made. But what if our culture of limitless self-fulfillment is actually making millions desperately ill? One of our leading interpreters of modernity and nationalism, Liah Greenfeld argues that we have overlooked the connection between egalitarian society and mental illness. Intellectually fearless, encompassing philosophy, psychology, and history,Mind, Modernity, Madness challenges the most cherished assumptions about the blessings of living in a land of the free.
Modern nationalism, says Greenfeld, rests on bedrock principles of popular sovereignty, equality, and secularism. Citizens of the twenty-first century enjoy unprecedented freedom to become the authors of their personal destinies. Empowering as this is, it also places them under enormous psychic strain. They must constantly appraise their identities, manage their desires, and calibrate their place within society. For vulnerable individuals, this pressure is too much. Training her analytic eye on extensive case histories in manic depression and schizophrenia, Greenfeld contends that these illnesses are dysfunctions of selfhood caused by society’s overburdening demands for self-realization. In her rigorous diagnosis, madness is a culturally constituted malady.
The culminating volume of Greenfeld’s nationalism trilogy, Mind, Modernity, Madness is a tour de force in the classic tradition of Émile Durkheim—and a bold foray into uncharted territory. Often counter-intuitive, always illuminating,Mind, Modernity, Madness presents a many-sided view of humanity, one that enriches our deepest understanding of who we are and what we aspire to be.
A leading interpreter of modernity argues that our culture of limitless self-fulfillment is making millions mentally ill. Training her analytic eye on manic depression and schizophrenia, Liah Greenfeld, in the culminating volume of her trilogy on nationalism, traces these dysfunctions to society’s overburdening demands for self-realization.
Twenty years ago Greenfield (sociology, political science, and anthropology, Boston U.) published the first volume in a trilogy, of which this book is the third; the first two are titled Nationalism and The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth. Her academic background and her approach are syncretic as she reflects on western civilization and psychiatric illness. She examines philosophical, psychological, and historical thinking and evidence pertaining to mental illness and makes the case that western culture--nationalism in particular--generates the dis-ease that causes so much mental and emotional anguish. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)