Beschreibung

What did it mean to be mad in seventeenth-century England? This book uses autobiographical accounts of mental disorder to explore the ways madness was identified and experienced from the inside. Looking at contemporary ideas about mental illness alongside a range of spiritual autobiographies from the period, it asks how some people came to be defined as insane when others with comparable symptoms were not, and what it meant to them. It engages with current debates about madness, gender, writing and the self, and investigates madness in relation to both culture and subjectivity.Three narratives are at the centre of the book, two by women and one by a man; all were written in the context of seventeenth-century spiritual autobiography, but where the typical spiritual autobiography is concerned with the relationship to God, these accounts also focus on the human, offering insights into less familiar aspects of early modern subjectivity. With their vivid and immediate descriptions of anxieties, delusions and desires, they illuminate not only madness in early modern culture, but also sanity, and demonstrate the fragility of the boundary between the two.

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