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Essay on the Classification of the Insane

Essay on the Classification of the Insane
Title: Essay on the Classification of the Insane
Release Date: 2018-10-22
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Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Essay on the Classification of the Insane, byMatthew AllenThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.  If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Essay on the Classification of the InsaneAuthor: Matthew AllenRelease Date: October 22, 2018  [eBook #58152]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ESSAY ON THE CLASSIFICATION OF THEINSANE***

Transcribed from the [1837] John Taylor edition by DavidPrice, email [email protected]

Book cover made from title page






“Thou shalt notbreak the bruised reed.”—Is.

“The care of the human mindis the most noble branch ofmedicine.”—Grotius.




It appears necessary to explain thesomewhat abrupt commencement of this Essay onClassification.  It was written, and even a great part of itprinted, as a continuation of my defence in the case of Allenv. Dutton; but during the progress of printing, I soonbecame weary of this defensive attitude; and I also soondiscovered, that so far from the ex-parte and perfectly falsestatements which were reported of the trial having any injuriousinfluence, they rapidly expedited my success.  Thanks to thezeal and exertion of all those friends who were anxious tocounteract the effect which these falsehoods were calculated tomake against me; they spoke from personal experience, and withall the ardour which gratitude and justice could inspire.

The design, therefore, of publishing it as a part andcontinuation of my defence, was gladly abandoned.  Many ofthe first sheets, however, containing no improper allusion tothis case, p.ivremain: I mention this, because it accounts for thatwhich might otherwise appear an abrupt commencement, especiallyto those who have not previously read that defence.  On thisaccount, I shall bind up that defence, (without additionalexpense) at the end of this Essay, for those who may wish to havethis connexion before them.  It is necessary, also, toinform the reader of the origin of this Essay, for anotherreason, in order that he may understand (and I trust, also, undersuch circumstances, he will excuse) why there is so much personalminuteness in describing our system of procedure and exertions,which could not, and would not, otherwise, have been obtruded onthe public.

But if, after being thus justified and compelled to come forthin my defence, the matter should be found useful, either tomyself or mankind, it would be foolish affectation to seem tofeel shame and regret by too anxiously apologising and explainingthe origin and consequent peculiar complexion of thispublication, or of those which may follow in regularsuccession.  And it is a truth, that it has increased myzeal and strengthened my resolve to prosecute that most useful ofall studies, the study of mind,—its errors and diseases,with, I trust, so ardent a love of the truth, that I earnestlypray I may be enabled to trace every error to its source; for somuch does the ground appear p. vto me to be untrodden, that I prayalso, that opportunity, life, health, and encouragement may begiven me to complete the work I have to do, that, however slendermy talents may be, I may yet feel that they have not been givenme altogether in vain.

In explaining in this Essay all the plans necessary to themoral and physical purposes of an efficient system ofClassification, I have had slightly to introduce many cases andsubjects to illustrate my present purpose; and feeling that I hadnot done them or myself justice, I have said, on these occasions,I shall hereafter treat this case or subject more amply in thatpart of the work in which they will be more directly andspecifically introduced.

Having thus incidently introduced many subjects without theirbeing under any specific head or title, I shall, to enable thereader to form some conception of the matter, give in thecontents something like a minute dissection of the whole.

From all this, and also from what I say in my former work onInsanity, as well as in Allen v.  Dutton, it will beseen that I have been induced to give pledge after pledge sorepeatedly, that it becomes a serious matter, “partaking ofthe nature of a solemn obligation;” if, therefore, I failto exert myself to redeem these pledges, I cannot have the excuseof p. vithosewho promise without even intending to perform.

In the preliminary remarks of Allen v. Dutton, I say atthe conclusion, “I find I must do even more than this,(meaning the defence); for my defence would still be imperfectwithout a short statement of my views on the insane.  Forthis purpose, I propose to write the following Essays:

1st.—On Classification, and Tables inIllustration. [vi]

2nd.—The different Divisions, intowhich I divide the Insane.

3rd.—Their General and SpecificCharacter.

4th.—The Correspondence between Causesand Effects.

5th.—That the Study of Mind willevolve the Principle of Universal Generalization.

6th.—Their Moral and MedicalTreatment.

7th.—A Selection of Cases inIllustration.

By this I shall be able to give a more full and perfectunderstanding of the peculiar character and proper treatment ofthis particular case; and by which will be seen, thoughimperfectly, something of those principles, and of that spiritwhich has pervaded the whole of our conduct to all thoseentrusted to our care.

“To do all this, in connexion with the above p. viicase, wouldnot be right, were I influenced by any improper spirit; but as myconviction is confirmed by experience, that these unjustpersecutions, provided we use them rightly, are for our good, Ifeel in no danger of indulging in any spirit, but a spirit ofgratitude and forgiveness.”

From all this, (whatever variation I may make in the plan as Iproceed) as well as from what I say in my first work on Insanity,where the same principle and mode of procedure is adopted, itwill be seen that my task is not a slight one.  In thepreface to that work, I say,

“Many subjects, not usually included inworks of this kind, will be introduced; but as my reasons fordoing so will best explain themselves in due course, and as onesubject will be introductory to another, it is unnecessary tomention them now, particularly as it might excite criticalobjections, which I would rather wish to disarm than pretend tobrave.

“Without presuming on the experience, knowledge, or thematerials I may possess, of this I am confident, that so long asI am conscious that the love of truth is my pole-star, so longwill my faith continue firm in this, that with patience andperseverance, and the love of truth for our guide, scarcely anyman’s powers are so limited but he may hope to acquire someclearer views, or perhaps make some discoveries p. viiiin thematters he has undertaken to investigate.

“The objects of my enquiries are very numerous, andinvolve so many either undiscovered or unadmitted truths, whichare so closely connected with subjects of inquiry the mostinteresting, that I have adopted this slow and humble plan ofproceeding for the present, and have suspended, for a while, myfirst purpose of publishing a systematic treatise oninsanity.”

It is intended that each publication shall contain onesubject, at least, in some measure complete, so that each partmay have its distinctive title, and be had separately.

The study of mental philosophy, of which insanity is a veryimportant part, is, of all studies, provided we are on the roadwhere truth is the guide, the most useful to our moralstate.  This belief was the first motive which induced me,now more than thirty years ago, to direct my medical attention tothis most radically-important, though hitherto-neglected branchof the profession, as well as to whatever seemed best calculatedto make me understand the sources of all erroneous and extremeviews, and which a series of painful circumstances through lifehave excited and continually strengthened; but it is notnecessary to state them: I may, however, mention that, as earlyas 1807, I visited lunatic asylums con p.ixamoré, and that in 1816, 1817, 1818, and1819, I was engaged in lecturing on Mind and its Diseases. Before this time, I had no conception that I should ever beexclusively devoted to this department of the profession, whichcircumstances at that period forced upon me.  Itrust, however, that I have endeavoured to profit by theopportunities which this new situation afforded me of more fullycomprehending the nature of mind, its connection with life andorganization, its diseased manifestations, and of ascertainingthe best modes of co-operating with nature in the removal ofthem; and, at any rate, it is certain that, for the purpose oflessening the miseries and increasing the comforts of those undermy care, I, for the most part, have sacrificed every personalconsideration.

From 1819 to 1824, I continued medical resident andsuperintendant of York Asylum; and on leaving it, it was votedunanimously, “That I deserved the thanks of the Governors,for my constant and successful efforts in establishing andperfecting the mild system of treatment there.”  I wasagain engaged in lecturing, at the request of severalinstitutions, on Mind and its Diseases; soon afterwards, in 1825,I fixed on this situation, as the best adapted of any part of thecountry about London which I saw, (and I spent several weeks inthe examination; p.xnor have I since that time seen any I like better) tocarry into effect my views of the treatment of the insane, eitheras respects the recovery or the comfort of recent or confirmedcases; for here, together with domestic comfort, diversity ofoccupations and amusements suited to their various states, theretirement, pure air, and sweet scenery around, afford amplescope for walks, without annoyance, and apparently withoutrestraint; which, with judicious moral and medical management,combine many acknowledged requisites to assist the disturbed anddiseased mind to regain its tranquillity, and in many cases toresume its healthy tone of action.

I shall only add, that all these views have been amplyjustified by the beneficial results on those entrusted to mycare; so much so, that these results and my success have greatlyexceeded my most sanguine anticipations.

I here gladly close these personal remarks, which have beenforced from me, for self is a subject which it is seldom wise andalways dangerous to introduce.

It only remains to notice another peculiarity in this essay,which is, that of having introduced some animadversions onlegislators whose minds are not sufficiently pure orcomprehensive to enable them to avoid the common error ofoverlooking general principles, and not to p. xipresume tojudge and draw conclusions from the hasty, partial, and erroneousviews they have acquired on the subject on which theylegislate.  This has often led to, or been combined with,that great selfish view of making themselves and their propertythe chief good, not considering the real objects of legislativecare, nor “that life is more than meat, and the body morethan raiment.”  This it is which has corrupted all ourlaws, especially our criminal code, which was a system of legalmurder, not justice, and a perfect scandal to the nation.

The same faults are visible in all they have done for the poorinsane.  They have given an undue and exclusiveconsideration to property and to the few extreme and violentcases; treating them and all who have the care of them ascriminals.  To live amongst them, appears to be deemed acrime, for which neither goodness nor talent can atone.  Allwhich must, in various ways, have an injurious influence. To banish these errors is to better the treatment of theinsane.  This conviction is my excuse for introducing thesubject, and which makes me anxious to prove, from experience,that such extreme cases hardly have any existence at all under aproper system of treatment; and, that at all events, this liberaltreatment p.xiimaterially lessens the horror and danger usuallyconceived to attend these places.

Insanity is, no doubt,

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