A History of Delusions by Victoria Shepherd audiobook

A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband, and a Walking Corpse

By Victoria Shepherd
Read by Antonia Bath

Blackstone Publishing
9.51 Hours 1
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The extraordinary ways the brain can misfire: Why would someone wake up and claim they’re Napoleon? Or why would they believe they have been turned into a wolf and demand to be fed raw meat? For centuries, people have dismissed delusions as a problem for the shrinks to sort out in distant asylums. But delusions are more than just bizarre case studies. They tell stories of collective anxieties and traumas. Examining the study and documentation of delusions over time, Shepherd looks at ten extraordinary cases of delusion from the archives. Included here are the paranoid conspiracy of James Tilly Matthews, an eighteenth-century spy in revolutionary France, and Madame X, who in 1923 demanded a divorce on the grounds that her husband had been substituted for a double. Also here are King Charles VI of France, who believed that he was made of glass, and Léa-Anna B, who was convinced that King George V was in love with her. A History of Delusions covers what psychological purpose these alternative realities might serve, given how common delusions are in the general population, and what wider societal stresses they might portend.  In this groundbreaking history, Victoria Shepherd explores delusions from ancient times to present and implores us to identify reason in apparent madness. Isn’t it perfectly understandable to believe you’ve got the wrong head when the guillotine takes the heads of hundreds every day? Who cannot sympathize with the man who believes he is already dead, when all his comrades died in the battlefields? We all have it in us to become delusional. In understanding delusions, we come closer to understanding ourselves.

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Summary

Summary

A Publishers Weekly Pick of Best Summer Reads

The extraordinary ways the brain can misfire: Why would someone wake up and claim they’re Napoleon? Or why would they believe they have been turned into a wolf and demand to be fed raw meat?

For centuries, people have dismissed delusions as a problem for the shrinks to sort out in distant asylums. But delusions are more than just bizarre case studies. They tell stories of collective anxieties and traumas.

Examining the study and documentation of delusions over time, Shepherd looks at ten extraordinary cases of delusion from the archives. Included here are the paranoid conspiracy of James Tilly Matthews, an eighteenth-century spy in revolutionary France, and Madame X, who in 1923 demanded a divorce on the grounds that her husband had been substituted for a double. Also here are King Charles VI of France, who believed that he was made of glass, and Léa-Anna B, who was convinced that King George V was in love with her. A History of Delusions covers what psychological purpose these alternative realities might serve, given how common delusions are in the general population, and what wider societal stresses they might portend. 

In this groundbreaking history, Victoria Shepherd explores delusions from ancient times to present and implores us to identify reason in apparent madness. Isn’t it perfectly understandable to believe you’ve got the wrong head when the guillotine takes the heads of hundreds every day? Who cannot sympathize with the man who believes he is already dead, when all his comrades died in the battlefields?

We all have it in us to become delusional. In understanding delusions, we come closer to understanding ourselves.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A varied and thought-provoking journey.” The Times (London)
“Meticulously researched…This is a good time to take delusions seriously.” Daily Express (London)
“Shows both the mistakes and triumphs of the past…examines the thin, blurry line between sanity and insanity.” Foreword Reviews
“Bewitching…Shepherd opts for empathy over prurience, highlighting the humanity of her subjects…This is a wondrous reminder of the intricacy and paradox of the human mind.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Antonia Bath provides a you-are-there narration…With her clipped British accent, Bath effectively details the conditions that led to whatever odd behavior is discovered…The delusions are fascinating.” AudioFile

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Victoria Shepherd

Author Bio: Victoria Shepherd

Victoria Shepherd conceived and produced the ten-part series A History of Delusions for BBC Radio 4, London. She has produced scores of documentaries and more for BBC Radio 4. She is also a writer, with an MA degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. She is a director of Winchester Literary Festival.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Psychology
Runtime: 9.51
Audience: Adult
Language: English