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Williams, M.H. (1988). On Birth and Madness by Eric Rhode. Published by Duckworth, 1987; 222 pages; £14.95.. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(4):451-454.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(4):451-454

On Birth and Madness by Eric Rhode. Published by Duckworth, 1987; 222 pages; £14.95.

Review by:
Meg Harris Williams

The author tells us this study was initially motivated by the investigation of his feelings on his wife's first pregnancy; seeking information about the phenomenon of birth, he visited a unit for mothers in puerperal breakdown and listened to their accounts of their experiences; following this he delved into writings on childbirth and theories of knowledge from the ancient Greeks onwards, exploring the curious and vital link which he found existed between them. Eric Rhode's well-researched and richly documented book has its scholarly and historical roots in the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, social history, literature and art. Lest this seem so wide-ranging as to be awesomely offputting, the reader may be reassured that it is not necessary to ‘know about’ all or any of these disciplines in the academic sense, in order to partake of the underlying image of experience which is the author's preoccupation and which is indeed in an intimate sense a sort of history of the genesis of Everymind. All the material presented has been filtered through the author's personal experience so by maintaining contact with himself he maintains contact with the reader. By ‘personal experience’ of course one refers not simply to personal anedotes nor even to his work as a therapist (though both these form part of the texture of the book), but to the type of imaginative conjecture or entering-into other realms of mental or physical existence which Keats described as ‘negative capability’.

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