Contents Index

I am not mad

Mary Shelley's concentration on this issue brings the reader to an awareness that, where an entire culture refuses to believe in the truth of the aberrant, it may appear mad even when it is not technically so. Or, as the British psychoanalyst of the 1970s, R. D. Laing, tried to argue, it is possible to believe that those we call mad are merely reacting sanely to the inherently mad stresses forced upon them by modern civilization. It is those who have no awareness of them who truly constitute the mad. In this case the public position of those who seem to value Victor's intellectual integrity but dismiss his self-accusations, first Mr. Kirwin and then his own father, allows us to read them as representatives of a reigning cultural establishment that, however well-meaning it may be, may at the same time appear willfully blind.