[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article examines the management and meaning of post-mortem examinations, and the spatial ordering of patients' death, dissection and burial at the Victorian asylum, referencing a range of institutional contexts and exploiting a case study of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum. The routinizing of dissection and the development of the dead-house from a more marginal asylum sector to a lynchpin of laboratory medicine is stressed. External and internal pressure to modernize pathological research facilities is assessed alongside governmental, public and professional critiques of variable necroscopy practices. This is contextualized against wider issues and attitudes surrounding consent and funereal rituals. Onus is placed on tendencies in anatomizing insanity towards the conversion of deceased lunatics--pauper lunatics especially--into mere pathological specimens. On the other hand, significant but compromised resistance on the part of a minority of practitioners, relatives and the wider public is also identified.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article surveys anglophone scholarship in the history of medicine over the past decade or so. It selectively identifies and critically evaluates key themes and trends in the field. It discusses the emergence of the discipline from a period of directional crisis to more recent emphasis on a pluralistic and ‘bigger-picture’ agenda, on comparative, cross-disciplinary and multicultural approaches, and on the reorientation and (putative) broadening out of medical history towards wider public engagement and closer interface with medical humanities.
Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 11/2011; 34(4):503 - 515.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The second part of this paper explores deepening doubts about pyromania as a special insanity, British debates post-1890, and pyromania's supplanting with the broader diagnostic category of insane incendiarism. It assesses the conceptual importance of revenge and morbid-motivations for arson, and the relationship of Victorian and Edwardian concepts of arson to more modern psychiatric research.The main objective is to ascertain the extent to which Victorian and Edwardian medico-psychologists and medical legists arrived at meaningful and workable definitions of criminal insanity linked to arson. It concludes by emphasizing the limitations, contentiousness and inconsistencies in the use of technical terms such as'pyromania', contrasted with the qualified success of authorities in arriving at more viable and broadly acceptable explanations of insane firesetting.
History of Psychiatry 12/2010; 21(84 Pt 4):387-405.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article surveys evolving and competing medico-legal concepts of pyromania and insane arson. Exploiting evidence from medical jurisprudence, medico-legal publications, medical lexicography and case histories, it seeks to explicate the key positions in contemporary professional debates concerning arson and mental derangement. A major focus is the application of the doctrines of moral and partial insanity, monomania, instinctive insanity and irresistible impulse to understandings of pyromania and insane arson. The limited extent to which mental defect provided a satisfactory diagnosis and exculpatory plea for morbid arson is also explored. Additionally, this article compares and contrasts contemporary debates about other special manias, especially kleptomania. Part 2 will be published in the next issue, History of Psychiatry 21 (4).
History of Psychiatry 09/2010; 21(83 Pt 3):243-60.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The second part of this paper assesses how far the dominant imagery of the (un)dress of the mad poor, found in the literary, medical and representational sources discussed in Part 1, corresponds with actual conditions and provisions for the poor insane as revealed in institutional and documentary sources. This is necessarily attempted through a selective sample of sources, in particular clothing procurement for the poor insane as chronicled in parochial records. More especially, the documentary accuracy of prevailing cultural representations is assessed through a case study of the records of Bethlehem (or 'Bedlam'/Bethlem) Hospital, the archetypal English madhouse.
History of Psychiatry 07/2007; 18(70 Pt 2):131-56.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Part 1 of this paper discusses the representation of the mad poor in literature and (to a lesser extent) art, emphasizing how commonly they are found in states of undress. It delineates the meanings behind such portrayals, arguing that the mad were thus displayed: (a) to signify their putative intellectual/ moral degradation, irrationality and 'otherness', and to designate them as an ontologically distinct (and inferior) species of person; (b) to denote their animality/childishness, and their proximity to Nature; (c) to reflect perceived phenomenological realities, such as that the mad were innately prone to denudation, and to tearing or destroying their clothes; and (d) as a direct appeal to charity and relief, and as a sign of their personal neglect (of decency/social codes) or neglect by others. It additionally explores medical representations and explanations of the (un)dress of the insane, before (in Part 2) comparing such representations with actual clothing provision for the mad as recorded in parochial and institutional records.
History of Psychiatry 04/2007; 18(1):5-24.
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