21 books directly related to psychiatry 📚

All 21 psychiatry books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness

Why this book?

“What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world?” asks Will Hall, the host of Madness Radio. Hall is one of the most gifted media hosts whom I have ever been interviewed by, as he is especially talented in drawing out his subjects. Hall is unique in that he is also a therapist who was once diagnosed with schizophrenia. Outside Mental Health is a collection of his interviews with more than 60 scientists, journalists, doctors, activist ex-psychiatric patients, and artists who provide alternative visions to psychiatry’s medical model—a paradigm that has been nonproductive and counterproductive for many people.

Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness

By Will Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Outside Mental Health as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness reveals the human side of mental illness. In this remarkable collection of interviews and essays, therapist, Madness Radio host, and schizophrenia survivor Will Hall asks, "What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world?" More than 60 voices of psychiatric patients, scientists, journalists, doctors, activists, and artists create a vital new conversation about empowering the human spirit by transforming society. "This book is required reading for anyone who cares deeply about mental health and its discontents." -Jonathan Metzl, MD, author of The Protest Psychosis: Schizophrenia and Black Politics "Bold,…

Book cover of Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine

Why this book?

Although Madhouse reads like a Stephen King novel, everything it recounts is actually true. At the turn of the twentieth century, Henry Cotton, a psychiatrist and the medical director of the New Jersey State Hospital at Trenton, thought he had found the solution to mental illness. His unconventional approach to treatment, however, left more people dead and disfigured than effectively cured. Andrew Scull’s deeply-researched narrative of Cotton’s medical interventions is a horrifying, yet entirely gripping, account of the lengths people have gone in the name of psychiatric treatment.

Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine

By Andrew Scull,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Madhouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Reads as much like a novel as it does a work of medical scholarship."-Patrick McGrath, New York Times Book Review

Madhouse revealsa long-suppressed medical scandal, shocking in its brutality and sobering in its implications. It shows how a leading American psychiatrist of the early twentieth century came to believe that mental illnesses were the product of chronic infections that poisoned the brain. Convinced that he had uncovered the single source of psychosis, Henry Cotton, superintendent of the Trenton State Hospital, New Jersey, launched a ruthless campaign to "eliminate the perils of pus infection." Teeth were pulled, tonsils excised, and stomachs,…


Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs

By Stuart A. Kirk, Tomi Gomory, David Cohen

Book cover of Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs

Why this book?

Mad Science is a comprehensive, engaging, and readable scientific and social critique of current mental health practices. It effectively argues that the fundamental claims of modern American psychiatry are based on misconceived, flawed, and distorted science, and it details psychiatry’s scientifically invalid disorders, unreliable diagnostic methods, ineffective drugs, and damaging use of coercion. The authors are scholars, researchers, and clinicians (Kirk, a professor emeritus of social welfare at UCLA; Gomory, an associate professor of social work at Florida State University; and Cohen, a professor in social welfare at UCLA). 

Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs

By Stuart A. Kirk, Tomi Gomory, David Cohen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mad Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Winner of an honorable mention from theSociety for Social Work and ResearchforOutstanding Social Work Book Award

Mad Science argues that the fundamental claims of modern American psychiatry are based on misconceived, flawed, and distorted science. The authors address multiple paradoxes in American mental health research, including the remaking of coercion into scientific psychiatric treatment, the adoption of an unscientific diagnostic system that controls the distribution of services, and how drug treatments have failed to improve the mental health outcome.

When it comes to understanding and treating mental illness, distortions of research are not rare, misinterpretation of data is not isolated,…


Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry

By Peter Stastny, Peter Lehmann,

Book cover of Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry

Why this book?

I found Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry to be an extremely helpful collection of reports and alternative approaches from an international cast of mental health professionals, ex-patients, lawyers, and social scientists. Peter Stastny is a psychiatrist, documentary filmmaker, and a founder of the International Network Towards Alternatives and Rights-Based Supports; and Peter Lehmann is the founder of Peter Lehmann Publishing and co-founder of the Association for Protection against Psychiatric Violence. Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry includes exciting alternative visions along with concrete self-help and approaches for professionals.

Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry

By Peter Stastny, Peter Lehmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The great book of alternatives to psychiatry around the world. (Ex-) users and survivors of psychiatry, therapists, psychiatrists, lawyers, social scientists and relatives report about their alternative work, their successes, their individual and collective experiences. The book highlights alternatives beyond psychiatry, current possibilities of self-help for individuals experiencing madness, and strategies toward implementing humane treatment.These are some of the questions, which are addressed by the 61 authors-(ex-) users and survivors of psychiatry, medical practitioners, therapists, lawyers, social scientists, psychiatrists and relatives from all continents: What helps me if I go mad? How can I find trustworthy help for a relative…

Book cover of Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

Why this book?

I have talked to many individuals who have told me that Anatomy of an Epidemic literally saved their lives. Medical and science reporter Robert Whitaker—whose co-written series for the Boston Globe on the abuse of mental patients in research settings was named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—is also the author of Mad in America, a history of the failure of mental health treatment. In Anatomy of an Epidemic, Whitaker makes a compelling case that the dramatic increases in serious mental illness in the United States are in large part due to the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs, which can transform episodic conditions into chronic ones.

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

By Robert Whitaker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Anatomy of an Epidemic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Updated with bonus material, including a new foreword and afterword with new research, this New York Times bestseller is essential reading for a time when mental health is constantly in the news.

In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades?

Interwoven with Whitaker’s groundbreaking analysis of the merits of psychiatric medications are the personal stories of children and adults swept up in this epidemic. As Anatomy of an Epidemic reveals, other societies have…

Book cover of The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry

Why this book?

The epic 900-page Discovery of the Unconscious is a phenomenally detailed and well-researched book that still challenges many of today’s psychological ‘truths.’ Ellenberger takes as his starting point models of the unconscious developed by Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung, which still influence many contemporary therapeutic treatments. He then skilfully links these models of the unconscious mind back to exorcism, magnetism, and hypnotism. Ellenberger’s detailed account of the use of magnetism and hypnosis by Jean Martin Charcot and others is fascinating because he explains exactly how Charcot's approaches premised new “uncovering” models devised by Nietzsche and the neo-Romantic movement. He also explains how Charcot’s work related to the growing interest in instincts and sexuality inspired by Darwin that culminated in the Freudian unconscious. In doing so, Ellenberger exposes what was genuinely new in the modern unconscious, and which parts of it have a much longer history. The result is an affirmation of the unconscious mind via a phenomenal journey of discovery; a truly remarkable book. 

The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry

By Henri F. Ellenberger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Discovery of the Unconscious as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic work is a monumental, integrated view of man's search for an understanding of the inner reaches of the mind. In an account that is both exhaustive and exciting, the distinguished psychiatrist and author demonstrates the long chain of development,through the exorcists, magnetists, and hypnotists,that led to the fruition of dynamic psychiatry in the psychological systems of Janet, Freud, Adler, and Jung.

History of Madness

By Michel Foucault, Jonathan Murphy (translator),

Book cover of History of Madness

Why this book?

Foucault’s classic 1961 book, History of Madness, was republished in 2006 in its entirety, exposing the serious omissions of the earlier English translation. In its full form, it stands the test of time as a groundbreaking book that exposed the origins of the modern rational self as the product of repeated attempts to understand, exclude, contain, eliminate, and treat ‘madness’. Foucault’s main argument was that since the Renaissance, our understanding of madness shifted from a philosophical phenomenon into an objective medical science. In the Renaissance, madness could still provide wisdom and insight. Yet, during the 17th and early 18th Centuries, numerous institutions of confinement, such as asylums and poor houses, were established to contain both madness and economic redundancy.’

Foucault characterises the modern experience of madness as defined purely by medical science. He claims this perspective is limiting and definitely not a move towards the ‘truth’ of madness. His critical views on psychiatry were caught up with the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960s and 1970s but his thesis was far more sophisticated than that, essentially explaining how rational Western thought relied on the denial of the madness of humanity. It is hard to underestimate the extent to which Foucault’s work has influenced intellectual culture in the late Western world as it has struggled to comprehend its liberalism.

History of Madness

By Michel Foucault, Jonathan Murphy (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History of Madness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When it was first published in France in 1961 as Folie et Deraison: Histoire de la Folie a l'age Classique, few had heard of a thirty-four year old philosopher by the name of Michel Foucault. By the time an abridged English edition was published in 1967 as Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault had shaken the intellectual world.

This translation is the first English edition of the complete French texts of the first and second edition, including all prefaces and appendices, some of them unavailable in the existing French edition.

History of Madness begins in the Middle Ages with vivid descriptions…


Book cover of Diary of a Baby: What Your Child Sees, Feels, and Experiences

Why this book?

I love this book because it takes the observations and research of Daniel Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant and puts it into readable and understandable language. This book helps parents to empathize with their young children, to understand how they are feeling and what they are thinking and to make attachment theory more real.

Diary of a Baby: What Your Child Sees, Feels, and Experiences

By Daniel N. Stern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diary of a Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every new parent desperately wants to know what goes on in the mind of a baby. Now a noted authority on infant development and psychiatry brings us closer than ever before to penetrating a your child's consciousness. In alternating sections of evocative prose, representing the baby's own voice, and explanatory text, Daniel Stern draws on the latest research findings to recreate the baby's world."

The Dream Master

By Roger Zelazny,

Book cover of The Dream Master

Why this book?

The Dream Master was originally published in Amazing (Jan/Feb 1965) titled, He Who Shapes. The novella won Roger Zelazny a Nebula Award in 1966. I have re-read this novel several times over the years, and subconsciously I think it influenced the premise for Dream Phaze. Some of the tech is a little outdated by today’s terms, but the overall idea is still fresh.

The Dream Master

By Roger Zelazny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dream Master as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

His name is Charles Render, and he is a psychoanalyst, and a mechanic of dreams. A Shaper. In a warm womb of metal, his patients dream their neuroses, while Render, intricately connected to their brains, dreams with them, makes delicate adjustments, and ultimately explains and heals. Her name is Eileen Shallot, a resident in psychiatry. She wants desperately to become a Shaper, though she has been blind from birth. Together, they will explore the depths of the human mind -- and the terrors that lurk therein

Book cover of Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

Why this book?

When I was struggling to understand my anxiety, I came across this book from a former doctor and current counselor. It really helped me understand some of the psychological lingo for mental health from a Christian perspective. And as much as I was informed by this short book, I was also encouraged! The author has a clear heart for people suffering from mental illness, and that comes through in his counsel and his explanations. It’s now become one of the books I recommend right away to anyone dealing with mental illness in the context of faith in God.

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

By Michael R. Emlet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Descriptions and Prescriptions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OCD, ADHD, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder . . . these are not just diagnoses from the DSM; they are part of our everyday vocabulary and understanding of people. As Christians, how should we think about psychiatric diagnoses and their associated treatments?

We can't afford to isolate ourselves and simply dismiss these categories as unbiblical. Nor can we afford to accept the entire secular psychiatric diagnostic and treatment enterprise at face value as though Christian Scripture is irrelevant for these complex mental struggles. Instead, we need a balanced, biblically (and scientifically!) informed approach that is neither too warmly embracing nor too coldly…


Faces in the Water

By Janet Frame,

Book cover of Faces in the Water

Why this book?

Faces in the Water was first published in 1961, though it received far less attention and acclaim. The “story,” such as it is, is narrated by Istina Mavet, a shy, introverted young woman (again, based closely on the author) who, like the author, spends ten years in a New Zealand psychiatric hospital. Faces in the Water recounts long, dull years of cruelty and suffering. But don’t let this put you off—Frame’s style is marvelously poetic. The narrative is abstract in places and was at first difficult for me to get into, but once I began to see things from Istina’s perspective, the story came to life, and I found it brutally beautiful. 

Faces in the Water

By Janet Frame,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faces in the Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was now an established citizen with little hope of returning across the frontier; I was in the crazy world, separated now by more than locked doors and barred windows from the people who called themselves sane.'

When Janet Frame's doctor suggested that she write about her traumatic experiences in mental institutions in order to free herself from them, the result was Faces in the Water, a powerful and poignant novel.

Istina Mavet descends through increasingly desolate wards, with the threat of leucotomy ever present. As she observes her fellow patients, long dismissed by hospital staff, with humour and compassion,…


Book cover of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Why this book?

I’ve often wondered what happened to people who didn’t comfortably fit into society prior to modern psychiatry. A condition we now might label as “on the spectrum” was viewed as madness during the Regency. Families would often place their loved ones in asylums thinking they were being kind. Needless to say, asylums were not nice places during the 1800s. Jennifer Ashley tackles the scenario beautifully in The Madness of Lord Mackenzie. After spending many years in an asylum, Ian’s brothers rescue him. But Ian is lost in a world that makes no sense until he meets Beth. Oh! The love!

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

By Jennifer Ashley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A woman is drawn to a dangerously intruiging man in this unique historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley.

It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted—especially with a lady. For the reputation of any woman caught in his presence was instantly ruined.
 
Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord whose hint of a brogue wrapped around her like silk and whose touch could draw her into a world of ecstasy. Despite his decadence and his…

Book cover of Inside the Mental: Silence, Stigma, Psychiatry, and LSD

Why this book?

Kay Parley is a remarkable woman. Her book takes readers through her amazing life and the diverse experiences she encountered in an effort to make sense of her family history of psychiatric illness, her own institutionalization, and later her role as a psychiatric nurse and psychedelic guide. Against contemporary medical advice, Parley took LSD in Saskatchewan with Frances Huxley (Aldous’ nephew), and in this book, she explains how it gave her insights into her own excursions into madness and how to be a gentle guiding force for others who experienced disorientation, whether through illness or through mind-altering drugs.

Inside the Mental: Silence, Stigma, Psychiatry, and LSD

By Kay Parley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside the Mental as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A revelatory account of the importance that psychiatric treatment and research from the 1950s has for mental health today." Jean Freeman, author of Fists upon a Star Before she became a psychiatric nurse at "The Mental" in the 1950s, Kay Parley was a patient there, as were the father she barely remembered and the grandfather she'd never met. Part memoir, part history, and beautifully written, Inside The Mental offers an episodic journey into the stigma, horror, and redemption that she found within the institution's walls. Now in her nineties, Parley looks back at the emerging use of group therapy, the…

Book cover of From the Corner Office to Alzheimer's

Why this book?

Michael was an executive in a Fortune 500 company when he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 49. What followed was a cascade of losses: career, income, purpose. Not one to give up easily, Michael turned his efforts and energy to dementia advocacy, speaking across the country and internationally at conferences and before Congress. His book tells the story of his newfound passion and work with raw honesty.

From the Corner Office to Alzheimer's

By Michael Ellenbogen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Corner Office to Alzheimer's as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imagine having a mysterious illness take over your mind. Over the next 10 years, you try to navigate a health care and social system that is not equipped to address what is happening to you. As you slowly lose your ability to think and remember, you have to try to hide the losses to protect you and your family financially. You encounter doctors who are at best baffled, and order a series of nonspecific, redundant, and uninformative studies. If you want to know what it is like to walk in the shoes of one person with Alzheimer’s, read this book,…

Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature

By Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, Leon J. Kamin

Book cover of Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature

Why this book?

A Marxist critique of evolutionary biology, authored by a geneticist, a neuroscientist, and a psychologist.  From a perspective about as far from the viewpoint of creationists as it is possible to get, these three scholars argue that the philosophical assumptions, methodology, and social organization of modern biology add up to a politically conservative conspiracy reinforcing capitalism, racism, classism, and misogyny. Although their attack is general, it is most specifically aimed at intelligence testing, which, they argue, is shoddy science in the service of racist ideology.

Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature

By Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, Leon J. Kamin

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not in Our Genes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not in our Genes systematically exposes and dismantles the claims that inequalities class, race, gender are the products of biological, genetic inheritances. 'Informative, entertaining, lucid, forceful, frequently witty... never dull... should be read and remembered for a long time.' - New York Times Book Review. 'The authors argue persuasively that biological explanations for why we act as we do are based on faulty (in some cases, fabricated) data and wild speculation... It is debunking at its best.' - Psychology Today

The Lobotomist's Wife

By Samantha Greene Woodruff,

Book cover of The Lobotomist's Wife

Why this book?

There is nothing more satisfying than a well-researched story about the history of medicine. 

This shocking story takes place in the mid-twentieth century and centers on Ruth, a hospital administrator whose husband invented the ice pick lobotomy for the treatment of psychiatric illness. As the surgery gains popularity, Ruth soon learns of debilitating complications from the procedure. Could the touted miracle cure be doing more harm than good?

The Lobotomist's Wife

By Samantha Greene Woodruff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lobotomist's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enthralling historical novel of a compassionate and relentless woman, a cutting-edge breakthrough in psychiatry, and a nightmare in the making.

Since her brother took his life after WWI, Ruth Emeraldine has had one goal: to help those suffering from mental illness. Then she falls in love with charismatic Robert Apter-a brilliant doctor championing a radical new treatment, the lobotomy. Ruth believes in it as a miracle treatment and in Robert as its genius pioneer. But as her husband spirals into deluded megalomania, Ruth can't ignore her growing suspicions. Robert is operating on patients recklessly, often with horrific results. And…

Book cover of The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist's Memoir of Depression

Why this book?

This book is a beautiful, inspiring weaving tale of a psychiatrist who has recurrent depression and has worked with people with depression. She doesn’t disguise how hard depression is, she doesn’t patronise, she explains depression from her personal point of view, explores what happened in her childhood, and explains a clinician’s point of view of depression. 

It’s embedded with bucket loads of empathy, compassion, and hope. You hear about the patients she’s helped and you come out feeling humbled and grateful for her telling her story. Very useful for professionals working in psychiatry and mental health but equally useful for those of us with this terrible illness.

The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist's Memoir of Depression

By Linda Gask,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Other Side of Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.'

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Having spent her life trying to patch up the souls of others, psychiatrist Linda Gask came to realise that being an expert in depression didn't confer any immunity from it - she had to learn take care of herself, too. Artfully crafted and told with warmth and honesty, this is the story of Linda's journey, interwoven…


Book cover of Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession

Why this book?

Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis have cast a long shadow over our understanding of the human mind. Most research psychologists today find Freud’s ideas to be oversimplified, exaggerated, or simply wrong. It is important to understand his legacy, however, and there is no better way to do so than to read this entertaining, gossipy book about psychoanalytic theory and treatment. Malcolm provides a rare peek into the consulting room of the psychoanalyst, with insightful critiques of the practice and theory of psychoanalysis. What is Freud’s legacy, exactly? I discuss that in Strangers to Ourselves, in a chapter entitled, “Freud’s genius, Freud’s myopia.”

Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession

By Janet Malcolm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Psychoanalysis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through an intensive study of 'Aaron Green,' a Freudian analyst in New York City, New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm reveals the inner workings of psychoanalysis.

Book cover of Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis

Why this book?

Comprehensive in scope, deep in the accumulated experience and knowledge brought to bear on the issue of mental, emotional, and physical well-being; this amazing work played a crucial role in awakening me to the broader horizons of the healer’s work. Ranging from crises of psychic, spiritual, and kundalini awakening to the trauma of UFO encounters; this work seeks to chart a supportive path whereby spontaneous traumatic openings to that ‘something larger’ which lays beyond us can be viewed and responded to as susceptible to integration, rather than suppressive medical interventions, thereby opening unparalleled opportunities for profound personal and spiritual growth.  

Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis

By Stanislav Grof,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spiritual Emergency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Spiritual Emergency to Healing and Rebirth

Increasing numbers of people involved in personal transformation are experiencing spiritual emergencies — crises when the process of growth and change becomes chaotic and overwhelming. Individuals experiencing such episodes may feel that their sense of identity is breaking down, that their old values no longer hold true, and that the very ground beneath their personal realities is radically shifting. In many cases, new realms of mystical and spiritual experience enter their lives suddenly and dramatically, resulting in fear and confusion. They may feel tremendous anxiety, have difficulty coping with their daily lives, jobs,…


Sailor's Heart

By Martin Campbell,

Book cover of Sailor's Heart

Why this book?

Not just another book on World War II—Sailor’s Heart by Martin Campbell is a story that has not been told before. It is the fictionalized (but heavily and exhaustively researched) story of three Royal Navy sailors who experienced traumas that rendered them unable to go on. Campbell says the condition “sailor’s heart” is the loss of interest in the battle and then the will to fight or the will to live.” With no end to the war in sight, the men are sentenced to an undefined period of rehabilitation in a Royal Navy hospital that has anything but the men’s best interests at heart. Their plight and struggle to survive are palpable and gripping.

Sailor's Heart

By Martin Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sailor's Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1942. The war at sea is being lost. One per cent of all naval personnel are being referred as psychiatric casualties. The British Admiralty introduces the Stone Frigate approach.
Three men fight for their country in the Arctic convoys of World War II, then for their sanity and dignity, labelled as cowards and subjected to experimental psychiatry at an isolated facility set up to recycle men back into battle.
To the Navy they are faulty parts, not constitutionally suited to operate at sea. To the public they are poltroons, malingerers and psychiatric cases.
The places in this story are real,…

Book cover of The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Toward a Political History of Madness

Why this book?

The 1840 burial of Napoleon’s remains in the Invalides coincided with the psychiatric admission of fourteen men who claimed they were the real Napoleon, and he lived on yet. A number of Napoleons—or those claiming to be Napoleon’s son—had also emerged during the emperor’s own lifetime, suffering from the recently identified “delusions of grandeur” diagnosis.

Murat offers a larger study of madness and asylums in nineteenth-century France, and the impact of political events, including the French Revolution and the Terror, on psychiatric patients and doctors. Her chapter on “madhouse Napoleons” is particularly intriguing, as it reveals how the ghosts of powerful historical leaders can infiltrate the minds of the disturbed. For me, the book also raises questions about memory and psychology more generally, about why the mad latched onto Napoleon specifically, and how history or historical figures can live on in surprising places.

The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Toward a Political History of Madness

By Laure Murat, Deke Dusinberre (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Man who thought he was Napoleon is built around a bizarre historical event and an off-hand challenge. The event? In December 1840, nearly twenty years after his death, the remains of Napoleon were returned to Paris for burial - and the next day, the director of a Paris hospital for the insane admitted fourteen men who claimed to be Napoleon. The challenge, meanwhile, is the claim by great French psychiatrist Jean-Etienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840) that he could recount the history of France through asylum registries. From those two components, Laure Murat embarks on an exploration of the surprising relationship…