The Magazine

Asylum Seeker

Sometimes crazy ideas make a certain sense.

Apr 6, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 28 • By CAITRIN NICOL
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Voluntary Madness is not, as its author first intended, a polemic. Nor is it in any sense an objective analysis of modern mental health care. What it does, and does quite well, is offer up a strong reminder to view sane and disturbed alike as whole human persons. Rather than moving towards the medicalization of every human trait and passion, it would be wise, even (or especially?) with the most severely afflicted, to begin with what is most central to them--one might call this the soul--and move outwards, from their hopes and fears and aspirations to the obstacles, medical and otherwise, that stand opposed to their full
flourishing.

Caitrin Nicol is managing editor of the New Atlantis.