|About the Book|
Insanity, in one guise or another, has always been with us, an occasional, unbidden guest at lifes masquerade. In recent centuries, however, it has appeared in previously unseen masks and in much greater numbers. The prevalence of insanity, whichMoreInsanity, in one guise or another, has always been with us, an occasional, unbidden guest at lifes masquerade. In recent centuries, however, it has appeared in previously unseen masks and in much greater numbers. The prevalence of insanity, which had once been considerably less than one case per 1,000 total population, has risen beyond five cases in 1,000. Why has insanity reached epidemic proportions? What are the causes of mental illness? Why do we continue to deny this rising plague and how does this denial affect our ability to assist those afflicted?In The Invisible Plague, E. Fuller Torrey and Judy Miller examine the records on insanity in England, Ireland, Canada, and the United States over a 250-year period, concluding, through both qualitative and quantitative evidence, that insanity is, and continues to be, an unrecognized modern-day plague. Their conclusion is based on the writings of psychiatrists, demographic data, and numerous literary sources. This book is a unique and major contribution to medical history because until now, insanity, and its apparent rise over the centuries, has been interpreted as a socially and economically driven phenomenon. Instead, the authors insist upon the biological reality of insanity. The book examines the reasons why epidemic insanity has been so profoundly misunderstood and concludes with speculations regarding its possible biological causes.By failing to appreciate the complete history of insanity, we fail to understand its role in such events as the Salem witch trials, the eugenics movement, and the mental hygiene movement, as well as the important role it has played in modern literature. We also fail to fully understand and addresscontemporary tragedies of the epidemic, such as the number of individuals with schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness who are homeless or in jails.