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Lanes, M.C. (1951). Anonymous. Philosophy of Insanity. [New York: Greenberg. 1947. Pp. xii + 116. $2.50.]. Psychoanal. Rev., 38(1):95.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Review, 38(1):95

Anonymous. Philosophy of Insanity. [New York: Greenberg. 1947. Pp. xii + 116. $2.50.]

Review by:
M. C. A. Lanes

This book was not written for popular consumption, rather for the afflicted and the families of the afflicted in the religiously dominated era of 1860. Had this book, written by an anonymous author, himself confined in the Asylum for Lunatics in Glasgow for some time, been made available for popular consumption there would no doubt have been less suffering in those times. This book certainly could have been a “beacon of light” for the mentally unfortunate. This man's introspection led to an understanding seldom displayed by even learned, studied men of today.

The text is a true mixture of observation and opinion which does not allow easily discernable lines of demarcation. It is often difficult to discern which comes first. But it is a humane, wise mind setting forth its words so that others may profit. Each chapter could have been an essay in itself. The one on fanaticism might easily have been taken from a collection on ethics; several others might easily be incorporated in a book on mental hygiene for the abnormal.

The style, long since outmoded, never-the-less displays a command of language sadly lacking in our modern scientific and semi-scientific works. His descriptions are graphic and vivid. There is only one point that might be questioned by the reader. It is difficult at times to believe that a man with such obvious insight on the subject of deviation could ever have been himself afflicted.

It would not be fair to take issue with any lack of knowledge shown here. It is true that his conclusions are more deductive than inductive and that his thoughts on most matters are heavily influenced by his own peculiar form of malady. Had the findings of modern psychiatry been available to him then, it is doubtful that any radical changes could have been made in the book. It is a relief, to read a book by a former inmate of an institution that doesn't distort life within the walls.

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