University of Exeter Press

Madness and Literature

What Fiction Can Do for the Understanding of Mental Illness

    • 320 Pages

    Mental illness has been a favourite topic for authors throughout the history of literature, and, conversely, psychologists and psychiatrists like Sigmund Freud and Karl Jaspers have been interested in and influenced by literature. Pioneers within philosophy, psychiatry and literature share the endeavour to explore and explain the human mind and behaviour, including what a society deems as being outside perceived normality.

    This volume engages with literature’s multifarious ways of probing minds and bodies in a state of ill mental health. To encompass this diversity, the theoretical approach is eclectic and transdisciplinary. The cases and the theory are in dialogue with a clinical approach, addressing issues and diagnoses such as trauma, psychosis, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-harm, hoarding disorder, PTSD and Digital Sexual Assault.

    The volume has three parts. Chapters in Part I address literary representations of madness with a historical awareness, outlining the socio-political potentials of madness literature. Part II investigates how representations of mental illness can provide a different way of understanding what it is like to experience alternative states of mind, as well as how theoretical concepts from studies in literature can supplement the language of psychopathology. The chapters in Part III explore ways to apply literary cases in clinical practice.

    Throughout the book, the contributors explore and explain how the language and discourses of literature (stylistically and theoretically) can teach us something new about what it means to be in ill mental health.

     

    The book engages with literature’s multifarious ways of probing minds and bodies in a state of ill mental health. Chapters analyse literature depicting issues and diagnoses such as trauma, psychosis, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-harm, hoarding disorder, PTSD and Digital Sexual Assault from theoretical and methodological perspectives.


    Introduction: Madness and Literature and the Health Humanities Lasse Raaby Gammelgaard

    Part I: Literary History and Socio-Political Perspectives
    1 Layla and Majnun in Historical and Contemporary Conceptions of Madness in Islamic Psychology Alan Weber
    2 The Anti-Psychiatry Ethos in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy Shoshana Benjamin
    3 Apartheid’s Garden: Dismantling Madness in J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K Sebastian C. Galbo
    4 Sniffs and Dribblers: Poppy Shakespeare and the Identities of Madness Clare Allan

    Part II: Literary Theory and Experiencing Mental Illness
    5 Reading Shattering Minds and Extended Selves in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway Anna Ovaska
    6 Spill the Words: Speechlessness and Creativity in the Writing of Janet Frame Mary Elene Wood
    7 Pronominal Shifts and the Confusion of Self with Not-Self Alice Hervé
    8 Rethinking Clinical and Critical Perspectives on Psychosis in Kathy Acker’s Writing Charley Baker
    9 Countering the DSM in Poetry about Bipolar Disorder Lasse Raaby Gammelgaard
    10 Seeing Feeling: Dissociation and Post-Traumatic Memory in the Graphic Novel Perfect Hair Penni Russon

    Part III: Literary Instrumentality and Clinical Psychopathology
    11 Writing Therapy, Writing Data: Therapeutic Writing as a Methodological and Ethical Approach in Researching Digital Sexual Assault Signe Uldbjerg
    12 A Question of Context: Sites for Cultural Negotiation in Narratives of Manic Depression Megan Milota
    13 Conscripting Dante: History, Anachronism, and the Uses of Literary Precedents in the ‘New’ Diagnosis of Hoarding Disorder David Orr
    14 Opening Up the Discourse of Male Eating Disorders: Personal Experience in German and English Narratives Heike Bartel

    Afterword Lasse Raaby Gammelgaard
    Notes
    Index

    Lasse R. Gammelgaard is assistant professor at the Department of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark. He obtained his PhD at Aarhus University in 2013 with a dissertation on narrative and poetry. He is co-director of the research group Health, Media and Narrative at Aarhus University. He is author of the high school textbook Galskab i litteraturen [Madness in Literature]. His articles appear in Narrative, Style, Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui and Journal of Research in Sickness and Society among others.

    ISBN
      DOI https://doi.org/10.47788/PMMG3806
      • 320 Pages