Hypochondriasis or Tristimania

Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:
Hypochondriasis or Tristimania

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This chapter presents Benjamin Rush's discussion of melancholy. Rush played an important part in the public life of the new Republic, being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a member of the Continental Congress who also served in the Continental army, a member of the Pennsylvania convention that ratified the federal Constitution, the founder of the first American antislavery society and of Dickinson College, and, from 1797 until his death, the treasurer of the U.S. Mint. But his medical career was also remarkable, and he is known as the “father of American psychiatry.” Rush's work on melancholy was influential beyond America, being read by his contemporary in France, Esquirol (1772–1840). His particular contribution was to tighten, develop, and divide the hitherto loose notion of a partial insanity, or what he calls “partial intellectual derangement.” The chapter includes passages from Rush's Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind which attempt to clarify the disorder category of partial insanity, and introduce new terminology to that end.

Keywords: Benjamin Rush; melancholy; psychiatry; partial insanity

Chapter.  3197 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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