Insanity and sanctity in Byzantium: the ambiguity of religious experience

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


"Insanity and Sanctity in Byzantium aims to understand how the use of psychological abnormality functions in deep societal transformations, producing a major shift in the religious, cultural, mental, and social aspects. The book examines a particular set of religious phenomena, in a broadly defined period and area - the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East between the birth of Christianity and that of Islam - and seeks to reach conclusions on the nature and function of abnormal behavior sanctified by society. Taking as a starting point a particular type of saint of Orthodox Christianity, the holy fool, the person who feigns madness, and investigating other types of saints who portray abnormal behavior, such as the martyr and the ascetic, the book reveals the ambiguous character of the boundary between sanity and insanity. It explains the significance of this ambiguity to the religious experience as a motor of social movement, and sets it at the core of the socio-religious transformation that changed the Antique civilization into a world of medieval societies."--
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, Massachusetts
PublisherHarvard University Press
Number of pages256
ISBN (Electronic)0674973119, 0674974433, 9780674974432
ISBN (Print)9780674057616, 0674057619
StatePublished - 2016

ULI Keywords

  • uli
  • Christian saints -- Byzantine Empire
  • Holy fools -- Byzantine Empire
  • Insanity, Religious
  • Mental illness -- Religious aspects
  • Mental illness -- Social aspects -- Byzantine Empire
  • Psychology and religion -- Byzantine Empire
  • Religion and sociology -- Byzantine Empire


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