Madness and Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Synopsis

How did people view mental health problems in the eighteenth century, and what do the attitudes of ordinary people towards those afflicted tell us about the values of society at that time? Professor Houston draws upon a wide range of contemporary sources, notably asylum documents, and civil and criminal court records, to present unique insights into the issues around madness, including the written and spoken words of sufferers themselves, and the vocabulary associated with insanity. The links between madness and a range of other issues are explored including madness, gender, social status, religion and witchcraft, in addition to the attributed causes of derangement such as heredity and alcohol abuse. This is a detailed yet profoundly humane and compassionate study of the everyday experiences of those suffering mental impairments ranging from idiocy to lunacy, and an exploration into the meaning of this for society in the eighteenth century.