Theater of Disorder

Patients, Doctors, and the Construction of Illness


There are certain phenomena, such as hypnosis, hysteria, multiple personality disorder, recovered memory syndrome, claims of satanic ritual abuse, alien abduction syndrome, and culture-specific disorders that, although common, are difficult to explain completely.The purpose of this volume is to apply a model of social relations to these phenomena in order to provide a different explanation for them. Wenegrat argues that they are socially constructed illness roles or purposive behavior patterns into which patients fall while receiving either unintentional or intentional cues during interactions with caretakers and authority figures. The application of the social-relations model raises some important, yet previously overlooked, questions about these phenomena. It also illustrates some important aspects of human nature and consciousness, places illness behaviors in their larger, cultural context, and shows the way to a new and different view of mental life.
  • Oxford University Press; October 2001
  • ISBN 9780195349764
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Theater of Disorder
  • Author: Brant Wenegrat
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"Wenegrat (psychiatry and behavioral science, Stanford U.) puts into historical context what he sees as the temporary insanity that infected the psychiatric profession in the forms of recovered memory, satanic abuse, and even extraterrestrial abduction during the last decades of the 20th century. He uses the framework of invented illness to look at outbreaks of possession, medieval lovesickness, early modern and modern European tarantism, hysteria in Europe of the 18th and 19th centuries, and other disorders."--SciTech Book News

About The Author

Bruce Wenegrat is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and Assistant Chief of Psychiatric Consultation Services at Veterans' Medical Center in Palo Alto, California.