Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade

Princeton University Press
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Through an examination of the fascinating lives and careers of a series of nineteenth-century "mad-doctors," Masters of Bedlam provides a unique perspective on the creation of the modern profession of psychiatry, taking us from the secret and shady practices of the trade in lunacy, through the utopian expectations that were aroused by the lunacy reform movement, to the dismal realities of the barracks-asylums--those Victorian museums of madness within which most nineteenth-century alienists found themselves compelled to practice. Across a century that spans the period from an unreformed Bedlam to the construction of a post-Darwinian bio-psychiatry centered on the new Maudsley Hospital, from a therapeutics of bleeding, purging, and close confinement through the era of moral treatment and nonrestraint to a fin-de-siécle degenerationism and despair, men claiming expertise in the treatment of mental disorder sought to construct a collective identity as trustworthy and scientifically qualified professionals. This fascinating series of biographies answers the question: How successful were they in creating such a new identity?.

Drawing on an extensive array of sources, the authors vividly re-create the often colorful and always eventful lives of these seven "masters of bedlam." Sensitive to the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of each man's personal biography, the authors replace hagiographical ac-counts of the great men who founded modern psychiatry with fully rounded portraits of their struggles and successes, their achievements and limitations. In the process Masters of Bedlam provides an extremely subtle and nuanced portrait of the efforts of successive generations of alienists to carve out a popular and scientific respect for their specialty, and reminds us repeatedly of the complexities of nineteenth-century developments in the field of psychiatry.

Originally published in 1996.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 14, 2014
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Pages
376
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ISBN
9781400864409
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Psychiatry / General
Psychology / History
Psychology / Movements / Psychoanalysis
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The loss of reason, a sense of alienation from the commonsense world we all like to imagine we inhabit, the shattering emotional turmoil that seizes hold and won't let go—these are some of the traits we associate with madness. Today, mental disturbance is most commonly viewed through a medical lens, but societies have also sought to make sense of it through religion or the supernatural, or by constructing psychological or social explanations in an effort to tame the demons of unreason. Madness in Civilization traces the long and complex history of this affliction and our attempts to treat it.

Beautifully illustrated throughout, Madness in Civilization takes readers from antiquity to today, painting a vivid and often harrowing portrait of the different ways that cultures around the world have interpreted and responded to the seemingly irrational, psychotic, and insane. From the Bible to Sigmund Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humors to modern pharmacology, the book explores the manifestations and meanings of madness, its challenges and consequences, and our varied responses to it. It also looks at how insanity has haunted the imaginations of artists and writers and describes the profound influence it has had on the arts, from drama, opera, and the novel to drawing, painting, and sculpture.

Written by one of the world's preeminent historians of psychiatry, Madness in Civilization is a panoramic history of the human encounter with unreason.

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