Views & Reviews Medical Classics

All the Madmen

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3809
  1. David Ingle, core trainee year 3 in psychiatry, South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust
  1. davingle{at}

    “All the Madmen” was inspired by the mental health problems of David Bowie’s brother and was released 39 years ago (before Bowie achieved major fame), on the album The Man Who Sold the World. It recognises the separation from society of mentally ill people, who are sent to “mansions cold and grey.” In a lucid interval, spoken instead of sung, the national shame of mental illness and policies of alienation and institution are questioned with sadness: “Where can the horizon lie / When a nation hides / Its organic minds in a cellar.”

    Faced with the prospect of discharge, the patient protagonist recognises his comfort in Librium, …

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