Hardback
September 24, 2019
9781421432670
English
344
125381
15
15
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v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
September 24, 2019
9781421432687
9781421432670
English
344
125381
15
15
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$34.95 USD, £26.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Nightmare Factories

The Asylum in the American Imagination

Madhouse, funny farm, psychiatric hospital, loony bin, nuthouse, mental institution: no matter what you call it, the asylum has a powerful hold on the American imagination. Stark and foreboding, they symbolize mistreatment, fear, and imprisonment, standing as castles of despair and tyranny across the countryside. In the "asylum" of American fiction and film, treatments are torture, attendants are thugs, and psychiatrists are despots.

In Nightmare Factories, Troy Rondinone offers the first history of mental hospitals in American popular culture. Beginning with Edgar Allan Poe's 1845 short story "The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether," Rondinone surveys how American novelists, poets, memoirists, reporters, and filmmakers have portrayed the asylum and how those representations reflect larger social trends in the United States. Asylums, he argues, darkly reflect cultural anxieties and the shortcomings of democracy, as well as the ongoing mistreatment of people suffering from mental illness.

Nightmare Factories traces the story of the asylum as the masses have witnessed it. Rondinone shows how works ranging from Moby-Dick and Dracula to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Halloween, and American Horror Story have all conversed with the asylum. Drawing from fictional and real accounts, movies, personal interviews, and tours of mental hospitals both active and defunct, Rondinone uncovers a story at once familiar and bizarre, where reality meets fantasy in the foggy landscape of celluloid and pulp.

About the Author

Troy Rondinone is a professor of history at Southern Connecticut State University. He is the author of The Great Industrial War: Framing Class Conflict in the Media, 1865–1950 and Friday Night Fighter: Gaspar "Indio" Ortega and the Golden Age of Television Boxing.

Endorsements

"Nightmare Factories has substance, style, and polish. Troy Rondinone's arguments are clear and convincing. He shows that the cultural history of the asylum is about more than the asylum itself, but about many of the most troublesome social problems: inequalities of gender, race, and class; the proper scope of individual responsibility; what it means to be normal."

- Jonathan Sadowsky, Case Western Reserve University, author of Electroconvulsive Therapy in America: The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy

"A capacious and engaging study of the mental institution and its multifaceted representations in US culture. Its range is formidable, traversing centuries and tackling analyses of canonical and genre fiction."

- Michael E. Staub, Baruch College, author of The Mismeasure of Minds: Debating Race and Intelligence between Brown and "The Bell Curve"

"Troy Rondinone persuasively argues with abundant examples that cultural tropes about institutional abuses of the mentally ill have obscured the new 'snake pits' of the streets and prisons. A compelling statement for a new narrative of mental illness that includes humane, universal healthcare."

- Lawrence Goodheart, Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut, author of Mad Yankees: The Hartford Retreat for the Insane and Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry

"A lively and engaging examination of the place of the asylum in popular culture from the eighteenth-century Gothic novel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestNightmare Factories is an accessible and entertaining look at a world we have now mostly lost."

- Andrew Scull, University of California, San Diego, author of Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

"Troy Rondinone documents how novels, movies, and mass entertainment influence society's perceptions of asylums, helping to shape public policy, mold psychiatry, and impact mental health treatment—often for good, but for the worse too. Thoughtful, thorough, and cleverly written, Nightmare Factories is a unique contribution: a study that reveals the power of pop culture in portraying Americans with mental illnesses and how we treat them. Brilliantly done."

- Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

"This book is a captivating journey through how mental illness has been perceived and treated over the last 200+ years. As Dr. Dean Brooks would say, Troy's work has 'exploded into consciousness the things we have refused to look at.' Dean would be commending Troy for fighting the good fight."

- Dean Brooks's daughters Ulista, Dennie, and India
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421432670 : nightmare-factories-rondinone
Hardback
September 24, 2019
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September 24, 2019
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