Much Madness,
Divinest Sense:

Women's Stories of Mental Health and Health Care

Edited by
Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD, CCFP, PhD and Lori Hanson MSc, PhD

About Much Madness, Divinest Sense

Much Madness book cover

“Although there have been countless cases of women’s madness throughout history, almost no personal accounts have been formally documented. Was there no one to listen to these women, to write down their thoughts? Is it an arbitrary oversight? Or perhaps these were intentional omissions, decided upon by historians, medical practitioners, and others with specific political agendas?” For too long, women’s mental health issues have been hidden from view, their stories unheard, their voices silenced. This volume hopes to shed some light on the dark halls and windowless rooms where women’s mental health has been hidden from view.

Much Madness, Divinest Sense is a collection of women’s writing about mental health and health care. The contributors are varied: not only physicians and other health care professionals but also indigenous women, transgender women, daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. They are the recipients, providers, and critics of mental health care. In this volume, they break the silence and speak about the messy subject of mental illness today. As with Kaplan-Myrth and Hanson’s first collection, Women Who Care: Women’s Stories of Health Care and Caring [Octopus Books | Amazon], this is a powerful collection that is as raw as it is real.

This anthology is co-edited by two feminist health advocates and researchers, Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, MD, CCFP, PhD, medical anthropologist and family physician, and Dr. Lori Hanson, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. The post-script is written by Dr. Allison Crawford, MD, FRCPC, a psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.

Video from our book launch

Inspiration for Much Madness, Divinest Sense

What's wrong with mental health care in Canada? Listen to Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, co-editor of "Much Madness, Divinest Sense", talk about the personal and professional frustrations that inspired this book. More at . #MentalHealth

Posted by Much Madness, Divinest Sense on Monday, 19 June 2017

News and Reviews

  • "The raw honesty, eloquent writing and strong socio-political intention of this book combine to make it one of my best reads in a very long time. Drs. Kaplan-Myrth and Hanson have skillfully brought together a collection of stories written from the heart and embodied experience of women who have suffered or supported “madness” in its various forms. Though this affliction among women has a long, tortuous history, which is beautifully documented by Kaplan-Myrth in her opening chapter, Much Madness, Divinest Sense normalizes madness in a way that is fresh and unique, and opens a space for concerted action. It brings to the foreground the feminist view that yet again, women’s voices have been silenced by political agendas. As Emily Dickenson (circa 1862) is quoted as saying: “’T’is the Majority, In this, as all, prevail”. The book provides a forum for those lost voices to be heard - in all of their strength, clarity, sensitivity and pain. The contribution it makes to the literature on women’s health care is rivaled only by that of its predecessor, Women Who Care: Women’s Stories of Health Care and Caring, by the same editors. Together, these two books wake health practitioners and the rest of us to the power and “divinest sense” of caring to both address systemic change and help restore the ill to mental and physical health."
    - Marilyn Laiken, PhD
    Professor Emeritus and Past Chair
    Department of Adult Education and
    Counselling Psychology, OISE, University of Toronto
  • May 5, 2017: Book shines light on women's mental health experiences (Saskatoon StarPhoenix).
  • May 1, 2017: The Struggle Continues: Essays From Women on Mental Health (Atlantic Books Today).
  • April 20, 2017: Listen to CBC Ottawa's interview with Nili Kaplan-Myrth.