The Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800-1965

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This collection of essays explores the development of the lunatic asylum, and the concept of confinement for those considered insane, in different national contexts over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Leading scholars in the field of medical history have contributed extensive primary research through individual case studies in the context of the legal, social, economic, and political situations of thirteen different countries. The book represents the first truly international history of the mental hospital, and is, therefore, a landmark comparative study in the history of medicine.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[An] useful little volume...In terms of what is happening in asylum history today, this volume represents the cream of the cream." Edward Shorter, American Journal of Psychiatry

"Basing their analyses on archival data, they present nuanced and subtle interpretations that offer fresh insight into the mental-health policies of different nations...these younger historians offer a complex model that grows out of deep research...Such research can also have contemporary policy implications." Nature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521802062
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Roy Porter was Professor of the Social History of Medicine, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London. He died in March 2002.

David Wright is Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences and Department of History, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Roy Porter; 1. Insanity, institutions and society: the case of Robben Island Lunatic Asylum, 1846–1910 Harriet Deacon; 2. The confinement of the insane in Switzerland, 1900–70: Cery and Bel-Air asylums Jacques Gasser and Geneviève Heller; 3. Family strategies and medical power: 'voluntary' committal in a Parisian asylum, 1876–1914 Patricia E. Prestwich; 4. The confinement of the insane in Victorian Canada: the Hamilton and Toronto asylums, c. 1861–91 David Wright, James Moran and Sean Gouglas; 5. Passage to the asylum: the role of the police in committals of the insane in Victoria, Australia, 1848–1900 Catharine Coleborne; 6. The 'Wittenauer Heilstätten' in Berlin: a case record study of psychiatric patients in Germany, 1919–60 Andrea Dörries and Thomas Beddies; 7. Curative asylum, custodial hospital: the South Carolina lunatic asylum and state hospital, 1828–1920 Peter McCandless; 8. The state, family, and the insane in Japan, 1900–45 Akihito Suzuki; 9. The limits of psychiatric reform in Argentina, 1890–1946 Jonathan D. Ablard; 10. Becoming mad in revolutionary Mexico: mentally ill patients at the General Insane Asylum, Mexico, 1910–30 Cristina Rivera-Garza; 11. Psychiatry and confinement in India Sanjeev Jain; 12. Confinements and colonialism in Nigeria Jonathan Sadowsky; 13. 'Ireland's crowded madhouses': the institutional confinement of the insane in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland Elizabeth Malcolm; 14. The administration of insanity in England, 1800–70 Elaine Murphy.
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