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Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of…
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Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses… (1998. Auflage)

von Ian Hacking (Autor)

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"It all began one morning last July when we noticed a young man of twenty-six crying in his bed in Dr. Pitres's ward. He had just come from a long journey on foot and was exhausted, but that was not the cause of his tears. He wept because he could not prevent himself from departing on a trip when the need took him; he deserted family, work, and daily life to walk as fast as he could, straight ahead, sometimes doing 70 kilometers a day on foot, until in the end he would be arrested for vagrancy and thrown in prison." - Dr. Philippe Tissie, July 1886. Thus begins the recorded case history of Albert Dadas, a native of France's Bordeaux region and the first diagnosed mad traveller, or fugueur. An occasional employee of a local gas company, Dadas suffered from a strange compulsion that led him to travel obsessively, often without identification, not knowing who he was or why he traveled. He became notorious for his extraordinary expeditions to such far-reaching spots as Algeria, Moscow, and Constantinople. 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 similarly 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 Travellers, 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. Using the records of Philippe Tissie, Dadas's physician, Hacking attempts to make sense of this strange epidemic. While telling his fascinating tale, he raises probing questions about the nature of the mental disorders, the cultural repercussions of their diagnosis, and the relevance of this century-old case study for today's overanalysed society.… (mehr)
Mitglied:howison
Titel:Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses (Page-Barbour Lectures)
Autoren:Ian Hacking (Autor)
Info:University of Virginia Press (1998), Edition: n, 239 pages
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Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses von Ian Hacking

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An interesting case study on a particular form of mental illness that existed only at a particular place and time: hysterical fugue, in late 19th century France. Hacking goes into detail about the diagnoses, doctors, and individuals involved, and constructs a theory of what he calls "transient mental illnesses" which require a particular ecological niche to emerge and thrive, and disappear when that niche does as well. One of the most interesting things to me about this book was that he addresses the question of whether or not these kinds of mental illnesses are "real," and his conclusion is, no - at least, not in the way that schizophrenia is real. He doesn't argue that people aren't suffering or that they are faking their problems, only that there's a distinction between this kind of mental illness and others. (Of course, this was written in 1997, and a number of the things he knows about schizophrenia are different now, too.) ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jan 8, 2019 |
Hacking assesses "mad travelers," also known as people afflicted by wandering fugue, in the 19th century in Europe. He argues that despite being a popular and widespread diagnosis for decades, particularly in France, fugue -- and the number of people afflicted with it -- have all but disappeared in the last 100 years. This historical context provides a platform for his arguments that psychiatric diseases are socially constructed.

Deceptively dense given the short page count. Heavier on the philosophy than I had expected, but a very intriguing and thought-provoking read for those of us on the social science side. I originally heard about this book in the context of Thomas Szasz's Myth of Mental Illness, and while Hacking certainly does not identify so far on that side of the spectrum, those who react poorly to critiques of modern mental illnesses, such as multiple personality/dissociative identity disorder, will not care for the book. I think they should read it anyway, as we should all be critically examining our assumptions at all times, but I understand that they may not care for it. ( )
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"It all began one morning last July when we noticed a young man of twenty-six crying in his bed in Dr. Pitres's ward. He had just come from a long journey on foot and was exhausted, but that was not the cause of his tears. He wept because he could not prevent himself from departing on a trip when the need took him; he deserted family, work, and daily life to walk as fast as he could, straight ahead, sometimes doing 70 kilometers a day on foot, until in the end he would be arrested for vagrancy and thrown in prison." - Dr. Philippe Tissie, July 1886. Thus begins the recorded case history of Albert Dadas, a native of France's Bordeaux region and the first diagnosed mad traveller, or fugueur. An occasional employee of a local gas company, Dadas suffered from a strange compulsion that led him to travel obsessively, often without identification, not knowing who he was or why he traveled. He became notorious for his extraordinary expeditions to such far-reaching spots as Algeria, Moscow, and Constantinople. 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 similarly 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 Travellers, 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. Using the records of Philippe Tissie, Dadas's physician, Hacking attempts to make sense of this strange epidemic. While telling his fascinating tale, he raises probing questions about the nature of the mental disorders, the cultural repercussions of their diagnosis, and the relevance of this century-old case study for today's overanalysed society.

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