The 19th century saw a series of panics about sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums, and public feeling often ran high against the rising 'alienist' (or 'mad doctor') profession. English liberty was seen to be under threat from a new class of men who would sign away freedom in return for the high fees paid by unscrupulous people who wanted to be rid of a 'difficult' family member, spouse or friend.
But who were the victims of this trade? And to what extent was it carried on? Why was it a problem for the wealthy and less so for the poor?
Twelve separate stories of contested lunacy cases -- ranging from the 1820s to the 1890s -- reveal the various types of persons who came under threat of incarceration, the support that their plight aroused in the public mind and the newspapers, and doctors' shifting arguments about what constituted insanity.
About Sarah Wise
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Published November 5, 2012
by Bodley Head.
History, Law & Philosophy, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Travel.