Reasoning against Madness offers a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the emergence and development of psychiatry in Rio de Janeiro, focusing on its complex and evolving relationship with the imperial and republican state. The book examines the evolution of Carioca psychiatry, from the process that led to the establishment of the Hospício Dom Pedro II (later renamed the Hospício Nacional de Alienados) in the mid-nineteenth century to the diffusion of psychoanalysis in the twentieth.

The volume under review encompasses, at the same time, both more and less than what is usually expected from a history of psychiatry. It embraces more because, focusing on the historical evolution of a single mental institution, it offers a larger picture of social, political, and cultural developments taking place in Brazil during a century-long period. Although Manuella Meyer's analysis is not confined to the history of the...

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