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The Geography of Madness
The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the World's Strangest Syndromes | Frank Bures
7 posts | 11 read | 22 to read
Jon Ronson meets David Grann in this fascinating, wildly entertaining adventure and travel story about how culture can make us go totally insane The Geography of Madness is an investigation of "culture-bound" syndromes, which are far stranger than they sound. Why is it, for example, that some men believe, against all reason, that vandals stole their penises, even though they're in good physical shape? In The Geography of Madness, acclaimed magazine writer Frank Bures travels around the world to trace culture-bound syndromes to their sources--and in the process, tells a remarkable story about the strange things all of us believe.
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fleeting
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How can you resist a title like this! 😄 I've studied and loved medical anthropology, and this is a good mix of travelogue and cultural beliefs of illnesses.

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Keryntalia
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Mehso-so

Fascinating subject but the book didn't live up to its premise - too focused on one specific syndrome, which became boring & felt like a padded-out magazine article. Some interesting stuff also let down by author's need to create a spurious 'personal' connection.

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ChrisMeier
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Mehso-so

Some reviews compared Frank Bures to Jon Ronson, but I did not find this to be true. Sure they both skew towards unusual topics, but I find Robson a lot easier to read. At times this book felt a little like a very long magazine article, without an easy pace to make it enjoyable.

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amazingmavis
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Well this one looks funnnnn 😁

6 likes1 stack add1 comment
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rebeccaschinsky

Started this last night and am so here for it. Investigative journalism meets sociology in a look at psychological problems that only show up in certain cultures. Fascinating so far.

ramyasbookshelf Ooh! Sounds interesting. 3y
Matilda This sounds like a college class I wish existed! 3y
rebeccaschinsky @Matilda it's like a sociology book I wished existed 3y
Rebeccak Here for this as a clinical social work student! 3y
29 likes15 stack adds4 comments
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balletbookworm
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Mehso-so

Ehh. Rather than a collective look at many different syndromic illnesses or mental illnesses that are "culture bound", Bures focuses primarily on koro (shrinking genitals) intermixed with his musings on his own development as a writer. Not as "science-y" as I had hoped it would be.

balletbookworm For a much better in-depth look at one non-Western cultural disease tradition vs American medicine, read Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. 3y
3 likes1 comment
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balletbookworm
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Pointing out whether all the brown/not US people speak good-quality English is getting super old in this book. If you mention a translator, I'll assume that you couldn't converse comfortably in a shared language; if you don't mention a translator, I'll assume you could. 😒