There are countless forms of human suffering, but one of the most devastating is mental illness. It can rip the heart out of a person's opportunity for a happy life and it bewilders loved ones who try to help. This book has no single theme because mental illness has so many crippling dimensions--the symptoms, the social rejection, the routines of life in a mental hospital, the homelessness, the inability to cure, and, of course, the personal misery. The suffering knows no bounds, particularly in the case of the seriously mentally ill, who live hell here on earth in a fog of misery. They may be driven by delusions about pacts with satan or an overwhelming crush of depression and not know why. Although there is no single theme running through this book, there are two things that I hope to impart: an understanding of the sociology of mental illness and a sense of compassion for the millions of people in this world with psychiatric disorders. Some feel that the causes of mental illness are a complete mystery. That used to be true centuries ago when mental illness was so misunderstood that it was relegated to poetry or sorcery because it was ignorantly confused with eccentricity or possession. Today there is a growing body of evidence that some mental illnesses are medical problems exacerbated by social stress. This book tracks that new knowledge, particularly the role of social stressors that can actually produce physical components of psychiatric ailments. I also try to untangle the chaotic turmoil politely referred to associal policy,a catchall phrase for treatment of the mentally ill. This is an especially pressing problem today as more and more patients are being released into the community. This book is written with many engaging case examples from the world of everyday life. I wrote it to make the student want to go to the next chapter. I also wrote it as a reference book for professionals. To date, this text is one of the most comprehensive works about the sociology of mental illness. It includes thousands of studies from years of systematic research in psychiatric sociology spanning the microsocial problems within families to the macrosocial stresses of culture, war, and economy. This fourth edition has not merely been updated; it has been thoroughly reorganized as well. Two of its novel features are: A new emphasis on social stress theory, which is woven throughout the book Original sections centering on my recent research on social class, prenatal stress, schizophrenia, and sexual predators I want to thank a lot of people for their help with this book and my career in general. My students at Villanova have been great, particularly those I met through the Honors Program who went on to do research and publish with me. They Include Lamia Barakat, Suzanne Brixey, Meoghan Byrne, Mike Engle, Carolyn Everson, Maria Halluska, and Corinne Rita. Special kudos to Mike and Carolyn (my best students) for returning to Villanova and lecturing in my classes. And continued thanks to Corinne Rita for all of her work on the third edition of this book. My course at Villanova goes by the name of Social Psychiatry. It is a popular course, partly because I am fortunate to have friends who give their time to lecture on their special areas of expertise. My best friend, Art Donato, a criminal defense attorney, joins Dan McDevitt, a district attorney, and Tony Pisa, a forensic psychologist, for an interesting (and unpredictable) class on psychiatry and the law. Barbara Cole, another "Honors student contact," gives a presentation on bipolar disorder that is masterfully creative. Mike Engle, who recently became a criminal defense attorney himself, delivers a riveting talk on serial murder. Lizzy Schmidt and Mike Gallagher speak to the students about their experiences growing up gay and further a sense of tolerance and open-mindedness. The highlight of the course is a trip to NorristoGallagher, Bernard J., III is the author of 'Sociology of Mental Illness', published 2001 under ISBN 9780130408686 and ISBN 0130408689.