Cover image for Undertaker of the mind : John Monro and mad-doctoring in eighteenth-century England
Undertaker of the mind : John Monro and mad-doctoring in eighteenth-century England
Andrews, Jonathan, 1961-
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Berkeley : University of California Press, [2001]

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xxii, 364 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
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RC438.6.M66 A53 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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As visiting physician to Bethlem Hospital, the archetypal "Bedlam" and Britain's first and (for hundreds of years) only public institution for the insane, Dr. John Monro (1715-1791) was a celebrity in his own day. Jonathan Andrews and Andrew Scull call him a "connoisseur of insanity, this high priest of the trade in lunacy." Although the basics of his life and career are well known, this study is the first to explore in depth Monro's colorful and contentious milieu. Mad-doctoring grew into a recognized, if not entirely respectable, profession during the eighteenth century, and besides being affiliated with public hospitals, Monro and other mad-doctors became entrepreneurs and owners of private madhouses and were consulted by the rich and famous.

Monro's close social connections with members of the aristocracy and gentry, as well as with medical professionals, politicians, and divines, guaranteed him a significant place in the social, political, cultural, and intellectual worlds of his time. Andrews and Scull draw on an astonishing array of visual materials and verbal sources that include the diaries, family papers, and correspondence of some of England's wealthiest and best-connected citizens. The book is also distinctive in the coverage it affords to individual case histories of Monro's patients, including such prominent contemporary figures as the Earls Ferrers and Orford, the religious "enthusiast" Alexander Cruden, and the "mad" King George III, as well as his crazy would-be assassin, Margaret Nicholson.

What the authors make clear is that Monro, a serious physician neither reactionary nor enlightened in his methods, was the outright epitome of the mad-trade as it existed then, esteemed in some quarters and ridiculed in others. The fifty illustrations, expertly annotated and integrated with the text, will be a revelation to many readers.

Author Notes

Andrew Scull is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

John Monro was the eminent 18th-century visiting physician responsible for the Bethlem Hospital, the first public institution for the insane in England. Andrews (Oxford Brookes Univ.; They're in the Trade of Lunacy) and Scull (sociology, Univ. of California; The Most Solitary Affliction) show how Monro and other 18th-century physicians treating the insane were part of the medical establishment and closely reflected the culture of the times. They use case studies of Monro's patients to prove that the "mad" physicians worked with fellow doctors and adhered to standard medical practices. While it's not an earth-shattering thesis, it has not been the focus of previous studies in the field. The case studies and the extensive use of period illustrations and publications also reveal how madness was perceived in society. In particular, the authors focus on what was called religious fanaticism and madness in the aristocracy. Written for informed readers, the book contains extensive notes and a good bibliography. Those interested in the history of insanity in England should also consult Roy Porter's Mind-Forg'd Manacles (1987) and Scull's Masters of Bedlam (Princeton Univ., 1996). Recommended for academic collections. Eric D. Albright, Duke Univ. Medical Ctr. Lib., Durham, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is both a fascinating and a disturbing book. The modern-day reader may have difficulty getting used to the phrase "mad-doctor" within the context of the authors' use of the term: doctoring was a profession and individuals who were "mad" were "lunatics." Though these phrases now cause psychologists to cringe, Andrews (humanities, Oxford Brookes Univ., UK) and Scull (sociology, Univ. of California, San Diego) convey the importance of "mad-doctoring" in the history of psychology. In this reviewer's opinion, the two most significant concepts to be culled from this work are, first, that Monro's role in the history of the discipline has been greatly underestimated and, second, that the time period of mad-doctoring paved the way for the modern independent practice of psychology. In other words, Monro helped set the stage for plying psychology as a private trade. The description of Bethlem Hospital (commonly known as "Bedlam") is particularly revealing. Recommended to all libraries supporting the history of psychology, this book provides a unique, honest, and disquieting frame of reference for understanding the discipline. R. E. Osborne Southwest Texas State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
1. John Monro: The Making of a Mad-Doctorp. 1
Forging the Early Careerp. 3
The Mad-Doctor and the Throne of Folly: John Monro at Bethlem and Bridewellp. 13
Monro and the Great Bedlam Exhibitionp. 20
How to Treat a Bedlamitep. 28
2. The "Real Use" of Discussing Madness: The Great Lunacy Debatep. 43
Rivals in Madness: John Monro, William Battie, and St. Luke's Hospital for Lunaticsp. 45
A Very Public Quarrelp. 52
Judging a Debatep. 59
A Cautious Rapprochementp. 70
3. Madness in Their Methodism: Religious Enthusiasm, the Mad-Doctors, and the Case of Alexander Crudenp. 73
Opposing "Spiritual Physick": The Monros and "Methodical" Madnessp. 75
Providence versus the Mad-Doctors: Alexander the Corrector and the Monrosp. 93
The "Madman" and His Mad-Doctorsp. 107
Cruden's Final Call from Godp. 111
A Last Judgment of Cruden's Casep. 112
4. Mad as a Lord: Monro and the Case of the Earl of Orfordp. 117
Lunacy and the Moneyed Classesp. 119
The Madness of a Whig Grandeep. 123
How to Treat a Lordp. 131
Lord Orford Recovers His Wits--and Loses Them Againp. 139
5. Mansions of Misery: Mad-Doctors and the Mad-Tradep. 143
Great Britain a Great Bedlam: The Wider Market for the Mad-Businessp. 145
John Monro and the Private Mad-Businessp. 160
For the Best and the Worst Purposes? Monro, Madhouses, and False Confinementp. 170
Monro Becomes Part of the Businessp. 179
6. Murder Most Foul, Madness Most High: The Courtroom, the Stateroom, and the Misty Summits of the Mad-Doctor's Expertisep. 191
A Notorious Murder: The "Ferocious" Earl Ferrersp. 193
The Mad-Doctor, Mad Meg, and State Committals to Bethlemp. 215
The Mad-Doctor and the Mad King: The Royal Malady and the End of Monro's Careerp. 254
Notesp. 265
Select Bibliographyp. 345
Indexp. 357