The Anthropology of Mental Illness
The book sets itself the ambitious task of exploring the relationship between human culture and the phenomenon of mental illness, that which has embarrassed, fascinated, and challenged educated minds throughout the centuries. Various manifestations of this phenomenon are examined in specific cultural contexts, presented with notable competence, and illustrated with memorable descriptions of clinical cases. (…) The book and its author have many merits—the capacity to present a highly specialized subject in an intelligible, absorbing, and simultaneously profound manner; respectable erudition and academic self-discipline; and the notable skill of handling different domains of knowledge, among others. The most remarkable quality, however, is the author’s concern both for the reader—who is carefully led into quite unknown and still frightening territory—as well as for his protagonists, the mentally ill. All told, I believe that this book will be of interest not just to students of psychiatry, psychology, and anthropology, but also to a broader circle of readers who are excited by the wretched and admirable destiny of being human.
List of Figures
Fig. 1: Bulgarians, painting by Stoyan Venev
Fig. 2: Karl Jaspers (1883–1969)
Fig. 3: Kurt Schneider (1887–1967)
Fig. 4: Emil Kraepelin (1856–1926), around the time of his voyage to Java, 1903
Fig. 5: Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
Fig. 6: Symptom formation in psychopathology
Fig. 7: An Arab Orthodox Coptic priest exorcises a Muslim compatriot
Fig. 8: Hristo Petrov (1901–1944)
Fig. 9: Emanuil Sharankov (1903–1997)
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