Guest Blog: Medical Case Studies and Nineteenth-Century Literature

Interesting post on the development of the “medical case study,” but also a chilling look at “mental illness” in the 19th Century.

Interesting Literature

By Kimberly Robinson, The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith

The rise of the asylum is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty, and, in the absence of facts, the Romantics obsessed over wrongful institutionalization, but the bureaucracy that handled the treatment of the insane is more tangible than most people might expect. Culturally speaking, the Romantics represented, among other competing ideologies, the shifting realities for what individuals could feasibly expect in exchange for their time and effort in labor markets. These markets were driven by national and industry agendas where people who were unable to work were often forced into institutions and then labeled insane. In France, there were significant improvements in psychiatric treatment over what had been happening in England. However, because England lagged behind in dealing with disenfranchised populations, grass root tensions forced legislative changes in the way asylums were being operated. These laws shaped the cultural movement toward…

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