Janet Oppenheim's book explores an illness that figures in nearly every volume of Victorian autobiography, memoirs, diaries, letters, and more than a few novels. Variously described as shattered nerves, nervous collapse, neurasthenia, or nervous breakdown, the illness was the focus of extensive medical discussion during the Victorian and Edwardian decades. Few doctors could decide whether nervous breakdown was a physiological disorder, to be cured by medication, or a moral weakness for which the patient needed psychiatric care. Oppenheim uses the letters, diaries, and autobiographies of men and women who suffered breakdowns, examines medical archives, published scientific sources, and contemporary fiction, in which the `nervous
type' was so familiar as to border on caricature. Shattered Nerves places a puzzling medical problem in its full social, cultural, and intellectual context.
Janet Oppenheim, Professor of History, American University, USA
"`Throughout, this is a remarkeable example of traditional scholarly writing and publishing. No misprints, no theorizing; instead, plain English and knowledgable pragmatism ... must become the standard survey of its subject.'
"`Professor Oppenheim writes with agreeable gusto. With a historian's skills she masters the intricacies of psychiatric thinking admirably ... serious, stimulating, and entertaining.'
"'Janet Oppenheim is Professor of History at the American University, Washington, DC. She spent nigh on a decade writing this admirable book, which combines scholarship with wit and clarity of writing. This is a great source book for any who are interested in the origins of our ideas about depression. It illuminates the present, as it illuminates the past. I recommend it thoroughly.'
Paul Bebbington, Insitute of Psychiatry, London, International Review of Psychiatry (1992)"
"John Reddick has written a substantial and compelling book on Georg Büchner. John Reddick communicates his sense of wonder at Büchner's achievement, which he describes using terms applied to the plays of Molière - "une transcription physique". This is a good book, and long overdue." - Forum for Modern Language Studies. Vol. XXXIII, No. 4 '97