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Lisa Appignanesi on the Longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize

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Lisa Appignanesi on the Longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize

Canadian Lisa Appignanesi's latest book, Sad, Mad and Bad: Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 (McArthur & Company), is on the longlist for the UK’s Samuel Johnson Prize. The prize is sponsored by BBC Four, and it "celebrates the diverse and thought-provoking writing in non-fiction." In Sad, Mad and Bad, Appignanesi examines the history of women and psychiatry over the past two hundred years, and she "unravels how symptoms and diagnoses in any given period have often played into each other; and more and more of our emotions and experience have become a matter for medics, therapists and drugs." The shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize will be announced on May 15. The winner will be announced on July 15. Go to the BBC Four website for the full longlist.

About Sad, Mad and Bad: Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800: This is the story of madness, badness and sadness, the ways in which we have understood them over the last two hundred years and conceive of them now. It is also the story of the professions who grew up to provide a growing array of treatments and the women patients who sometimes benefited from their care, at others did not, even when it was women, themselves, who provided the therapy.

Frenzies, possessions, manias, melancholy, nerves, delusions, aberrant acts, dramatic tics, passionate loves and hates, sex, visual and auditory hallucinations, fears, phobias, fantasies, disturbances of sleep, dissociations, communication with spirits and imaginary friends, addictions, self-harm, self-starvation, depression are all characters in the story this book tells. So too are the Latinate and Greek designations they took on as diagnoses – monomania, melancholia, hysteria, dementia praecox, schizophrenia, anorexia - and their often casual, but scientizing shorthand today, MPD, ADHD, OCD.

In this fascinating history, Lisa Appignanesi brings to life a series of extraordinary women and their mind doctors. On the way she unravels how symptoms and diagnoses in any given period have often played into each other; and more and more of our emotions and experience have become a matter for medics, therapists and drugs.

From the catalogue. Click here to visit the McArthur & Company website.

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