Madness Is Civilization explores the general consensus that societal ills were at the root of mental illness. Michael E. Staub chronicles the surge in influence of socially attuned psychodynamic theories along with the rise of radical therapy and psychiatric survivors' movements. He shows how the theories of antipsychiatry held unprecedented sway over an ermous range of medical, social, and political debates until a bruising backlash against these theories-part of the reaction to the perceived excesses and self-absorptions of the 1960s-effectively distorted them into caricatures. Throughout, Staub reveals that at stake in these debates of psychiatry and politics was thing less-than how to think about the institution of the family, the nature of the self, and the prospects for, and limits of, social change.
Michael E. Staub is professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York, and the author of Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America.