Friday, December 26, 2008
First Lines of the Practice of Physic By William Cullen, p. 306. "There have occurred so many instances of this kind that I believe physicians are generally disposed to suspect organic lesions of the brain to exist in almost every case of insanity 1553 This however is probably a mistake for we know that there have been many instances of insanity from which the persons have entirely recovered and it is difficult to suppose that any or g nic lesions of the brain had in such case taken place Such transitory cases indeed render it probable that a state of excitement changeable by various causes had been the cause of such instances of insanity"
First Lines of the Practice of Physic By William Cullen, Peter Reid: "1541 Upon the other hand it is very probable that the state of the intellectual functions depends chiefly upon the state and condition of what is termed the Nervous Power or as we suppose of a subtile very moveable fluid included or inherent in a manner we do not clearly understand in every part of the medullary substance of the brain and nerves and which in a living and healthy man is capable of being moved from every one part to every other of the nervous system OP PHYSIC 297"
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Here is an anecdote that I ran accross in Paul Laffey's "Two registers of madness in Enlightenment Britain," History of Psychiatry 13(2002) 367-80. The philosopher "David Hume was hired to provide tutelage for the increasingly insane Lord Annandale in the mid 1740s, and began this period convinced that Annandale needed moral guidance from a 'friend' upon whose 'conduct and discretion' hopes for recovery depended. Hume found it 'strange [that] so considerable sums shoul'd be lavisht on apothecaries and physicians, who perhaps do hurt, and a moderate sum be grudg'd to one who sacrifices all his time to him.' However, if Hume was indeed experimenting with a moral account of insanity, experience soon set set him to rights, and not three weeks later he conceded that Annandale's 'caprice came from nobody, and no cause, except physical ones.' This story does serve to imply that some thinkers were prepared to assay moral models of mental derangement, but Hume's rapid abandonment of this progect shows, …that insanity's somatic substrate remained firmly entrenched as the dominant framework. And notably, Hume wrote nothing further on madness as a philosophical problem."