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Insomnia : A Cultural History (Hardcover)

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In today's media-saturated and hyperconnected society, increasing numbers of people are finding it hard to switch off their overstimulated brains and escape the demands of daily life. We are becoming, it seems, a world of insomniacs. But this condition of perpetual unrest has plagued people for centuries. The roots and effects of insomnia are complex, Eluned Summers-Bremner reveals in this fascinating study, and humans have employed everything from art to science to understand, explain, and mitigate this problem.
The author begins her exploration of sleeplessness with the literature of ancient times, finding its sufferers in such prominent texts as the "Iliad," the Mesopotamian epic "Gilgamesh," and the Bible. Insomnia continued to figure large in Romantic and Gothic literature, as the advent of street lighting in the nineteenth century inspired the fantastical blurring of daytime reality and night specters, and authors connected insomnia to the ephemeral worlds of nightmares and the sublime. Meanwhile, throughout the ages insomnia has been variously categorized by the medical community as a symptom of deeper maladies: in medieval and early modern times, for example, physicians and philosophers saw insomnia as a sign of lovesickness, melancholy, or even demonic possession. As modern medicine and science evolved, insomnia emerged as a distinct symptom of such ailments as post-traumatic stress disorder after war. Today's medical solutions tend to involve prescription drugs, and "Insomnia "ultimately raises important questions about the role of the pharmaceutical industry and the effectiveness of such treatments.
Bedside reading of the most useful sort, "Insomnia" won't put you tosleep, but it will help you understand your problem and its surprisingly rich cultural legacy.


Publisher Reaktion Books
Mfg Part# 9781861893178
SKU 204193323
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 1861893175
Release Date 2/27/2008
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