Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England

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Overview

Mystical Bedlam explores the social history of insanity of early seventeenth-century England by means of a detailed analysis of the records of Richard Napier, a clergyman and astrological physician, who treated over 2000 mentally disturbed patients between 1597 and 1634. Napier's clients were drawn from every social rank and his therapeutic techniques included all the types of psychological healing practised at the time. His vivid descriptions of his clients' afflictions and complaints illuminate the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people. This book goes beyond simply analysing mental disorder in a seventeenth-century astrological and medical practice. It reveals contemporary attitudes towards family life, describes the appeal of witchcraft and demonology to ordinary villagers, and explains the social and intellectual basis for the eclectic blend of scientific, magical, and religious therapies practised before the English Revolution. Not only is it a contribution to the history of medicine but also a survey of some of the darkest regions of the mental world of the English people of the seventeenth century.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Insanity in early modern England; 2. A healer and his patients; 3. Stress, anxiety and family life; 4. Popular stereotypes of insanity; 5. Psychological healing.

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