"Unravel[s] the national psyche that brought our politics to this moment.” — Evan Osnos, The New Yorker
A landmark book, from “one of the world’s most prominent psychiatrists” (The Atlantic): Allen Frances analyzes the nation, viewing the rise of Donald J. Trump as darkly symptomatic of a deeper societal distress that must be understood if we are to move forward. Equally challenging and profound, Twilight of American Sanity "joins a small shelf of essential titles—Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land is another—that help explain why and how the Trump presidency happened" (Kirkus).
It is comforting to see President Donald Trump as a crazy man, a one-off, an exception—not a reflection on us or our democracy. But in ways I never anticipated, his rise was absolutely predictable and a mirror on our soul. … What does it say about us, that we elected someone so manifestly unfit and unprepared to determine mankind’s future? Trump is a symptom of a world in distress, not its sole cause. Blaming him for all our troubles misses the deeper, underlying societal sickness that made possible his unlikely ascent. Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society—if we want to get sane, we must first gain insight about ourselves. Simply put: Trump isn’t crazy, but our society is. —from TWILIGHT OF AMERICAN SANITY
More than three years in the making: the world's leading expert on psychiatric diagnosis, past leader of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM (“the bible of psychology”), and author of the influential international bestseller on the medicalization of ordinary life, Saving Normal, draws upon his vast experience to deliver a powerful critique of modern American society’s collective slide away from sanity and offers an urgently needed prescription for reclaiming our bearings. Widely cited in recent months as the man who quite literally wrote the diagnostic criteria for narcissism, Allen Frances, M.D., has been at the center of the debate surrounding President Trump’s mental state—quoted in Evan Osnos’s May 2017 New Yorker article (“How Trump Could Get Fired”) and publishing a much-shared opinion letter in the New York Times (“An Eminent Psychiatrist Demurs on Trump’s Mental State”). Frances argues that Trump is "bad, not mad"--and that the real question to wrestle with is how we as a country could have chosen him as our leader. Twilight of American Sanity is an essential work for understanding our national crisis.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“For some mental-health practitioners, the ethical debate [over Trump’s mental state] is a distraction from a larger point. In Twilight of American Sanity, Allen Frances argues that the more urgent concern is unravelling the national psyche that brought our politics to this moment.”
— Evan Osnos, The New Yorker
“In this wide-ranging and enlightening book, Allen Frances, one of America’s most distinguished psychiatrists, shows how most of the current problems facing the United States — from denial of climate change to grotesque inequality—arise from mass delusions similar to the delusions of psychiatric patients. Twilight of American Sanity leaves no topic untouched. Readers might disagree with some of his conclusions, but they will always find them provocative and well argued.”
— Marcia Angell, MD, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine
“Allen Frances is right: the deep questions are not about Trump but about the society in which he became even a plausible candidate, much less the president. May Twilight of American Sanity be an opoprtunity to think more clearly about who we are and what we really want!”
— Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author of The End of Nature and Free Radio Vermont
“An eminent psychiatrist.”
— New York Times
“This welcome and insightful book joins a small shelf of essential titles—Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land is another—that help explain why and how the Trump presidency happened.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Lively, provocative. ... Frances indicts our broader societal insanity for electing Trump and embracing his views, and offers wide-ranging insights into human behavior and the consequences for society and governance.”
— Norman Ornstein, contributing writer, The Atlantic; columnist, National Journal; and resident scholar, the American Enterprise Institute
“The State of the Nation according to the nation’s leading psychiatrist: Allen Frances’s Twilight of American Sanity is informed, insightful, illuminating, interesting, occasionally infuriating, but almost always right.”
— Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal Society of Medicine and Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College, London
About the Author:
Allen Frances, M.D., was the chairman of the DSM-IV Task Force and part of the leadership group for DSM-III and DSM-III-R. He is professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University School of Medicine.