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Delusions and the Madness of the Masses
Reviewed by Pedro Ruiz, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2011;168:440-440. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.10121764
View Author and Article Information
Miami, Fla.

Book review accepted for publication December 2010.

The author reports no financial relationships with commercial interests.

Accepted December , 2010.

Copyright © American Psychiatric Association

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Delusions and the Madness of the Masses, authored by Lawrie Reznek, is a very interesting and novel book from a psychiatric, psychobiological, and societal point of view. At the main core of the book lies the conceptualization of what madness is and what madness is not-this not only from a professional point of view within the fields of psychiatry and psychology but also from a societal at large point of view. Throughout the entire book, the author addresses the basic issue of what madness is all about as well as the conceptualization of madness from different perspectives.

While focusing on what madness is and is not, Reznek addresses such topics as the conceptualization of delusions. The examples discussed and analyzed in this regard are not only quite challenging to the current views of society but quite interesting and logical as well. The view and role of religion in this respect are also thoroughly reviewed by the author vis-à-vis psychiatrists' current view of delusions and madness. Without question, the arguments raised by Reznek are extraordinarily powerful and enlightening. In this respect, this book is one of the most interesting and intriguing texts that I have ever read in my career as a psychiatrist. The philosophical and religious points of view raised by the author in his pursuit of what is logical and illogical and what is real and unreal are both fascinating and of great interest from a psychiatric and psychological perspective as well as from philosophical and religious perspectives.

At the core bottom of this book and what I learned the most in reading it is the role of dogmatism in today's society across the world. My take-home lesson, which this text demonstrates quite clearly, is the fact that dogmatism must and can be scientifically and morally examined as well as understood in today's societal points of view. In reading this book, the differentiation of what is sane and insane becomes a major challenge, not only for the reader but for society at large also.

Reading this text has made me reflect about my own points of view vis-à-vis madness and also my own perception of how we psychiatrists look at the understanding of delusions, madness, the role of cultures around the world, the influence of religion in this respect, and the philosophical viewpoints of society or societies across the world. On the other hand, however, after reading this book, I felt more comfortable about being a psychiatrist. It has also permitted me to realize more clearly how humanistic we need to be, particularly when we take actions that will affect other human beings in every respect.

I sincerely recommend this book not only to my psychiatrist colleagues but to any person who might be in a position to act in one way or another vis-à-vis the fate of other human beings, such as psychiatric patients.

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