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Book club: your reviews

All posts from: November 2011

The Moon and Madness

14 November, 2011 Posted by: -

  • Title: The Moon and Madness
  • Author: Niall McCrae
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic, 2011
  • Reviewer: Carol Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, Sheffield Hallam University

What was it like?

A very interesting title enticed me in to this paperback book- but then I struggled! The book is very comprehensive and begins way back in the age of the Greeks moving forwards through the medieval period and subsequent centuries until we arrive in the 21st century.  The author discusses issues of madness throughout this time period but this can be very heavy going at times. He has clearly done his research and cites numerous studies into the relationship between the moon and disturbed behaviour, none of which, he acknowledges is conclusive. The latter chapters give interesting insights into other cultures, the effects of light on mood and tidal rhythms. All of which were interesting to read and think about but I was left unsure as to how this could be applied to clinical practice. The author concludes by considering the future of how these two concepts fit together and decides that more research is needed. He does however apologise for not giving the reader any answers at this point in time.


So to sum up this book recites a long history of links between the moon and disturbed behaviour. It highlights the fact that the moon does have proven influence on nature but acknowledges that this has been dismissed in relation to humans. It states that a flurry of systematic investigations in recent decades has delivered equivocal findings and argues that ultimately the reader will judge whether lunar influence on behaviour is real, possible or imagined. I for one am still undecided.

What were the highlights?

Well researched book full of information on this topic which works through logically from the Greeks to present day. It concludes with interesting brief considerations of other cultures, effects of light on mood and tidal rhythms.

Strengths and weaknesses?

An extremely comprehensive history of madness and links to the moon however this takes some reading and may only appeal to a limited audience.

Who should read it?

For those who are very interested in the history of mental illness or anyone with several hours to spare and a need to broaden their thinking.


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