Madness: A Philosophical Exploration




2023.02.4 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Justin Garson, Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, Oxford University Press, 2022, 304pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780197613832.

Reviewed by Şerife Tekin, University of Texas at San Antonio

Justin Garson’s Madness: A Philosophical Exploration offers a conception of madness that infuses hope to those whose lives are touched by it. Moving away from the construal of madness-as-dysfunction, the dominant framework in contemporary mental illness research and treatment, Garson argues that we can and should see madness as a designed feature, just like the heart or the lungs. According to the madness-as-dysfunction view, mental illness occurs when the mind or the brain does not function in the way nature intended. In contrast, in the madness-as-strategy view, when someone is mad, their mind or their brain is working exactly as it was designed. Moreover, madness can sometimes be cathartic, healing, and consoling, providing “strategies for solving problems, coping with aspects of the environment,…

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