A History of Delusions

Pages: 352
Subject: History, Psychology
Imprint: Oneworld

A History of Delusions

The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse

Victoria Shepherd

The brain can misfire in extraordinary ways
9780861540914 (2 Jun 2022)
RRP £16.99 / US$27.00

The Book

‘Fascinating and compassionate' Horatio Clare

  • The King of France - thinking he was made of glass - was terrified he might shatter…and he wasn't alone.

  • After the Emperor met his end at Waterloo, an epidemic of Napoleons piled into France's asylums.

  • Throughout the nineteenth century, dozens of middle-aged women tried to convince their physicians that they were, in fact, dead.

For centuries we've dismissed delusions as something for doctors to sort out behind locked doors. But delusions are more than just bizarre quirks - they hold the key to collective anxieties and traumas.

In this groundbreaking history, Victoria Shepherd uncovers stories of delusions from medieval times to the present day and implores us to identify reason in apparent madness.

Additional Information

Subject History, Psychology
Pages 352
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Victoria Shepherd conceived and produced the ten-part series A History of Delusions for BBC Radio 4. She has produced scores of documentaries and major strands for BBC Radio 4. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from the University of East Anglia.


‘This fascinating and compassionate exploration of minds in crisis reveals the articulate, sustaining and explicable nature of delusion. Engrossing in its explorations and deeply moving in its findings, this is a captivating study of how expressions of trauma can be understood, and a powerful argument for treatment by "kind attention”.'

- Horatio Clare, author of Heavy Light