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The Moon and Madness

  • Comments (1)
  • 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.


  • Comments (1)

Readers' comments (1)

  • I cannot agree with this review and find it incredible that the reviewer thinks this book too complex for nurses to read! Obviously there is a great deal of ground to cover on such a topic and I do not feel that the author has overladen the reader with too much statistical detail or awkward concepts.If the author suggested that the book will leave the reader to decide whether lunar influence is 'real, possible or imagined' the curt response of 'I for one am undecided' doesn't make sense. Was the reviewer left needing more information, or could she not have expressed an opinion? It is sad that the reviewer thinks this book irrelevant to nursing because it has no implications for practice. It has, in my opinion, a wealth of implications about how knowledge is constructed, and of the need for a more creative approach to research. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this excellent book

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