Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Studies on insanity

Since I finished reading 'Visits to Bedlam', I've done some further investigation into insanity, and I came across 'George III and the mad-business' by Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter. The knowledge that George III was insane has been floating around for some time, but I recently learned that he might've suffered from Porphyria, which might've been the cause of his episodes. However, this book is not just an account of George's struggles with his illness - it is also a very interesting window on the world of medicine and treatment of illnesses during the 1700's. Already I have learned that most doctors, especially the wealthy and well-connected ones, considered mental illness beneath their image to treat. Of course, the microscope had yet to be invented, so doctors knew next to nothing about the deeper workings of the human body and less than that about the human brain.
So far, there are two well-respected doctors quarrelling over George III like dogs scrambling over a juicy bone. And the politicos are, naturally, getting involved. Maybe it's just my nowadays sensibilities, but George III is not getting a whole lot of help from these types. Especially since there is no way they can understand what has caused his episodes. Anyway, that's what I'm reading about these days. BYE.

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