Book ID: CBB689259006

State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin (2018)


Reich, Rebecca (Author)

Northern Illinois University Press

Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 283
Language: English

What madness meant was a fiercely contested question in Soviet society. State of Madness examines the politically fraught collision between psychiatric and literary discourses in the years after Joseph Stalin's death. State psychiatrists deployed set narratives of mental illness to pathologize dissenting politics and art. Dissidents such as Aleksandr Vol'pin, Vladimir Bukovskii, and Semen Gluzman responded by highlighting a pernicious overlap between those narratives and their life stories. The state, they suggested in their own psychiatrically themed texts, had crafted an idealized view of reality that itself resembled a pathological work of art. In their unsanctioned poetry and prose, the writers Joseph Brodsky, Andrei Siniavskii, and Venedikt Erofeev similarly engaged with psychiatric discourse to probe where creativity ended and insanity began. Together, these dissenters cast themselves as psychiatrists to a sick society. By challenging psychiatry's right to declare them or what they wrote insane, dissenters exposed as a self-serving fiction the state's renewed claims to rationality and modernity in the post-Stalin years. They were, as they observed, like the child who breaks the spell of collective delusion in Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." In a society where normality means insisting that the naked monarch is clothed, it is the truth-teller who is pathologized. Situating literature's encounter with psychiatry at the center of a wider struggle over authority and power, this bold interdisciplinary study will appeal to literary specialists; historians of culture, science, and medicine; and scholars and students of the Soviet Union and its legacy for Russia today.

Reviewed By

Review Aleksandra Brokman (2019) Review of "State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin". History of Psychiatry (pp. 375-378). unapi

Review Dan Healey (2019) Review of "State of Madness: Psychiatry, Literature, and Dissent After Stalin". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 654-655). unapi

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Thesis Reich, Rebecca; (2010)
Thinking Differently: Psychiatry, Literature and Dissent in the Late Soviet Period (/isis/citation/CBB001567224/)

Article Grégory Dufaud; (2021)
Tournant autoritaire et ouverture des possibles: Trajectoires de médecins sous Staline (/isis/citation/CBB979666483/)

Book Ash, Mitchell G.; (2010)
Psychoanalyse in totalitären und autoritären Regimes (/isis/citation/CBB001023462/)

Article Margaret Peacock; (2015)
Mendel Lives: The Survival of Mendelian Genetics in the Lysenkoist Classroom, 1937–1964 (/isis/citation/CBB127467717/)

Article Häfner, Heinz; Sommer, Felix; (2013)
The Bavarian Royal Drama of 1886 and the Misuse of Psychiatry: New Results (/isis/citation/CBB001320334/)

Article Haack, Kathleen; Kumbier, Ekkehardt; Herpertz, Sabine C.; (2010)
Illnesses of the Will in “Pre-Psychiatric” Times (/isis/citation/CBB001232240/)

Chapter Birgit Bunzel Linder; (2016)
Metaphors unto Themselves: Mental Illness Poetics and Narratives in Contemporary Chinese Poetry (/isis/citation/CBB655922089/)

Chapter Ljudmilla Chapovalova; (2014)
Tra fantasia e realtà: lo scienziato russo nelle opere di Michail Bulgakov (/isis/citation/CBB731416132/)

Article Birk Engmann; (2022)
On the origins of the concept of ‘latent schizophrenia’ in Russian psychiatry (/isis/citation/CBB771136351/)

Book Mike Jay; (2016)
This Way Madness Lies (/isis/citation/CBB241296371/)

Book Bruce M. Z. Cohen; (2016)
Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Theory of Mental Illness (/isis/citation/CBB184810423/)

Article Passione, Roberta; (2018)
Psichiatria e condizione umana: Il contributo di Silvano Arieti (/isis/citation/CBB859391750/)

Book Jonathan Sadowsky; (2020)
The Empire of Depression: A New History (/isis/citation/CBB846402776/)

Article Vera Fusco; Francesca Gollo; Marco Salustri; (2019)
Il Museo Laboratorio della Mente come risorsa per la salute mentale (/isis/citation/CBB096289987/)

Authors & Contributors
Ash, Mitchell G.
Luse, Agita
Kumbier, Ekkehardt
Haack, Kathleen
Herpertz, Sabine C.
Sommer, Felix
History of Psychiatry
Mefisto: Rivista di medicina, filosofia, storia
Science and Education
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Brandes & Apsel
Harvard University
Palgrave Macmillan
Thames & Hudson
Polity Press
Mental disorders and diseases
Science and literature
Science and politics
Medicine and politics
Psychiatric hospitals
Pascal, Constance
Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich
Bleuler, Eugen
Silvano Arieti
Mach, Ernst
Bogdanov, A. Aleksandr
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century, late
Soviet Union

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment