Reading List

Some “memoirs of madness” and other works on mental illness.

General Works

Claridge, Gordon, Ruth Pryor, and Gwen Watkins. Sounds from the Bell Jar: Ten Psychotic Authors. Cambridge, MA: Malor Books, 1998.

Foucault, Michel. Madness & Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. New York: New American Library, 1989.

Porter, Roy. A Social History of Madness: The World Through the Eyes of the Insane. New York: Weindenfekd & Nicolson, 1987.

Bipolar Disorder

Hornbacher, Marya. Madness: A Bipolar Life. New York: First Mariner Books, 2009.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. New York: Free Press Paperback, 1993.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Martin, Emily. Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Whybrow, Peter C. A Mood Apart: Depression, Mania, and Other Afflictions of the Self. New York: BasicBooks, 1997.


Emmons, Kimberly K. Black Dogs and Blue Words: Depression and Gender in the Age of Self-Care. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010.

Endler, Norman S. Holiday of Darkness: A Psychologist’s Personal Journey Out of His Depression. New York: Wiley, 1982.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. New York: Vintage Books, 1999.

Slater, Lauren. Prozac Diary. New York: Random House, 1998.

Smith, Jeffrey. Where the Roots Reach for Water: A Personal and Natural History of Melancholia. New York: North Point Press, 1999.

Styron, William. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. New York: Vintage, 1992.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Wilensky, Amy S. Passing for Normal: A Memoir of Compulsion. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.

Personality Disorder

Kaysen, Susanna. Girl, Interrupted. New York: Vintage, 1993.

Van Gelder, Kiera. The Buddha and the Borderline: A Memoir. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2010.


Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2012.

Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Slater, Lauren. Welcome to My Country. New York: Random House, 1996.

Wurtzel, Elizabeth. Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America. New York: Riverhead Books, 1994.


Laing, R. D. The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.

Nash, Carol S. Welcome, Silence: My Triumph Over Schizophrenia. New York: Avon, 1989.

Saks, Elyn R. The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Sociological Accounts

Goffman, Erving. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York: Anchor Books, 1961.

Whitaker, Robert. Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Whitaker, Robert. Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. New York: Broadway Books, 2015.