The Problems of Liberty and Property

Akihito Suzuki

in Madness at Home

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245808
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932210 | DOI:
The Problems of Liberty and Property

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This chapter turns to the ideological aspects of psychiatric practice and investigates the patterns of psychiatrists' conceptualization of their role vis-à-vis families' concerns about the protection of their property. In the immediate aftermath of the Davies case, there were calls to rethink the psychiatrist's relationship with the patient and the family, especially in the context of commissions of lunacy. The chapter examines three forms of reaction, which were all responses to the crisis in psychiatry brought about by the fall of the most eminent practitioner in the field. They were: an unpublished paper read at the Royal College of Physicians in 1830–31, which reinforced the conservative and gentlemanly role of the guardian of family property; The Indications of Insanity (1830) by John Conolly, then a professor of medicine at University College London; and the writings of Charles Dunne, a radical entrepreneur and lecturer who had received a medical education in Paris. These reactions proposed different programs to recast psychiatric practice, inspired by different ideologies and concerns. The chapter also examines J. C. Prichard's concept of “moral insanity.” First formulated in a publication in 1833, Prichard's newly formulated diagnostic category provided an escape route from the catch-22 in which psychiatrists found themselves, by endorsing the old family-dependent diagnostic pattern and, at the same time, insisting that the diagnosis was a scientific one.

Keywords: psychiatrists; psychiatric practice; property protection; families; J. C. Prichard; moral insanity; diagnosis

Chapter.  11409 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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