Saturday, February 4, 2012
The Three Christs of Ypsilanti by Milton Rokeach
It is a well-known fact that I love the hell out of books by and about people who are bat-poop crazy.
Rokeach's account of his 1959-1961 social-psychology research using three paranoid schizophrenics all with Messianic delusions stands out, though. Much of the text is copy of letters written by the patients to people who don't actually exist, and the rest is Rokeach's commentary that, towards the end of the book, begins to have serious second thoughts about the ethics and validity of what he is doing with these three men. Throughout he does an amazing job of keeping his subjects human and not caricatures of mental illness presented only for our entertainment. On the occasions when I laughed, it was at the humor and insight that the men showed, and not at their unfortunate situations.
Nice morally heavy stuff that includes serious discussion of how Madam Yeti Woman may actually be a hermaphroditic Great God Morpho married to a man named Doktor Dung. Wonderful stuff!