Five-part, very sensitive examination of mental illness.
Host Jonathan Miller's father was a psychiatrist, & Miller was headed for the same profession, until he decided that a more rewarding career would be to dress up in other people's clothes & pretend to be someone else: to be an actor.
Fortunately, Miller, a former comic anarchy mate of Peter Sellers & Spike Milligan, brings a healthy skepticism to his subject & so can be genuinely exasperated when NIH researchers are trying to explain schizophrenia by pointing to colorful CAT scans of the brain or the earnest doctor states that when a patient hallucinates in front of her, she's busy trying to figure out what's going on in his brain. Best parts are medical historian Andrew Scull describing psychiatry's distasteful history of carnival rides & enemas or E.C.T. pitchman Dr. Max Fink getting all dewy eyed over the "marked improvement" of his zapped patients. There's also some ancient footage of Ronald Laing talking about the "gulf in power" betw. doctor & patient.
"Madness" was shown over five weeks on PBS in 1991. Doesn't appear to be available on VHS or DVD: likely because it isn't hawking a pharmaceutical panacea. Ah, for the days of differences of opinion ...
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