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Title: Madness, medicine, and religious identity in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world
Author: Lee, Mark
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the experience, interpretation and treatment of religious beliefs and behaviours that were considered 'mad' in nineteenth-century Britain and America. Challenging historiographical emphases upon a secularising transition in the long eighteenth century, it argues that there was considerable overlap between the religious beliefs and values of the people who were deemed religiously insane and the people who confined and treated them. Nevertheless, for various reasons - theological, therapeutic and socioeconomic - medical approaches to religious insanity developed in ways that undermined patients' religious identities. In addition to tracing these medical developments, this thesis looks at how the 'religiously insane' used theological ideas and narrative strategies to challenge the theoretical underpinnings of nineteenth-century psychological medicine. Chapter One uses the writings of an alleged madwoman whose religious activism spanned British and American contexts to highlight key differences between cultures of religious madness across the Atlantic world. It emphasises the greater degree of latitude for religious deviance that was permitted within the revivalist cultures of the Second Great Awakening in America. Chapter Two looks comparatively at the autobiographical writings of two people - one British and the other American - who were confined to asylums for religious insanity. It contrasts the social and economic factors that led to their marginalisation as religious lunatics to the theological meanings they attached to their own madness and exclusion. Chapter Three explores practices of pastoral care, demonstrating the ways in which evangelical ministers integrated medicine and theology as a means of preserving the contentious emotional and psychological features of evangelical interiority. Chapter Four explores, in turn, the treatment of religious 'enthusiasts' in insane asylums. It argues that the religious identities of patients were negated as a consequence of the theological and philosophical considerations which shaped psychological medicine in the early stages of professionalisation. Chapter Five looks at how the 'religiously insane' interpreted their own experiences. It argues that their spiritual experiences, their marginalisation as mad-people, and their engagement with contemporary medical ideas underpinned a unique and potent challenge to the authority of psychological medicine.
Supervisor: Garnett, Jane Sponsor: Susan Buckee Scholarship ; Institute for Faith and Culture ; Clarendon Fund ; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Medicine ; History of Religion ; History of Madness ; History of Evangelicalism ; History of Psychiatry