Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses

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Harvard University Press, 2002 - Philosophy - 239 pages
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Albert Dadas suffered from a strange compulsion that led him to travel obsessively, often without identification, not knowing who he was or why he traveled. Medical reports of Dadas set off at the time a small epidemic of compulsive mad voyagers, the epicenter of which was Bordeaux but which soon spread throughout France to Italy, Germany, and Russia. Today we are besieged by mental illnesses of the moment, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The debate rages about which of these conditions are affectations or cultural artifacts and which are "real." In Mad Travelers, Ian Hacking uses the Dadas case to weigh the legitimacy of cultural influences versus physical symptoms in the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. He argues that psychological symptoms find stable homes at a given place and time, in "ecological niches" where transient illnesses flourish.
 

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Mad travelers: reflections on the reality of transient mental illnesses

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Why do some mental illnesses flourish in certain times and places but later disappear? Reflecting on what he terms transient mental illness, philosopher-historian Hacking (Toronto: Rewriting the Soul ... Read full review

Contents

The First Fugueur
15
Hysteria or Epilepsy?
39
Niches
59
Five Questions Five Answers
88
What Ailed Albert
111
The Wandering Jew
121
Wandertrieb in Germany
133
Alberts Tale 1872May 1886
143
Albert Observed June 1886February 1887
157
Dreams May 1887September 1889
173
A Pathogenic Dream 1892
193
Experiments 1888 1893
195
Epilogue 1907
200
Notes
203
Bibliography
231

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About the author (2002)

Ian Hacking is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. He holds the chair of Philosophy and History of Concepts at the College de France. Among his many books, the most recent is Rewriting the Soul.

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