Tag Archives: madness

The beginnings of humane psychiatry: Pinel and the Tukes

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Portrait of Philippe Pinel by Anna Mérimée. 1826. Public domain. From Wikimedia. “It is perhaps not going too far to maintain that Pinel has been to eighteenth-century psychiatry what Newton was to its natural philosophy and Linnaeus to its taxonomy.” -George Rousseau, Historian, 1991 Although modern treatment of […]

The legacy and maladies of Jonathan Swift

JMS Pearce England, UK   Fig 1. Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (Fig 1.) is best known for his popular Lemuel Gulliver’s: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World published in 1726. (Fig 2.) Exciting adventures combine with satirical metaphors that parodied contemporary customs and politics. Lemuel Gulliver, the narrator, begins as a modern man […]

Richard Dadd: art and madness

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Portrait of British painter Richard Dadd (1817-1886) showing painting Contradiction: Oberon and Titania. Henry Hering. circa 1856. Source Unknown. Public Domain due to age. Is there anything so extravagant as the imaginations of men’s brains? Where is the head that has no chimeras in it? . . . Our knowledge, […]

Mental illness in art

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Corridor in the Asylum. Vincent can Gogh. 1889. Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is often said that creative art is linked to eccentricity, sometimes bordering on madness. Examples abound of great musicians, writers, and artists who at some time in their lives were deranged and often committed to institutions for […]

Longitudinal lunacy: Science and madness in the eighteenth century

Richard de Grijs Sydney, Australia Daniel Vuillermin Beijing, China   Interior of Bethlem Royal Hospital, from A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth. The poor soul in the background is trying to solve the longitude problem. “A couple of young Non conformist preachers from Worksop in the North of Derbyshire came thither to have my approbation […]

Madness and gender in Gregory Doran’s Hamlet

Sarah Bahr Indianapolis, Indiana, United States   John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1851-52, Tate Britain, London. In director Gregory Doran’s 2009 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, David Tennant’s Hamlet becomes a bawdy lunatic who consciously or unconsciously uncouples himself from reality. The intentionality of Hamlet’s madness is more muddled than in Shakespeare’s text because of the […]

Letters from the asylum

Nicholas Kang Auckland, New Zealand   Asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausol, Provence France After cutting off his ear, Vincent van Gogh spent a year in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence confined to a mental asylum. Despite several major relapses during his stay, he continued to work prolifically, completing more than 140 paintings including masterpieces such as Starry Night, Irises, and Almond […]

Géricault’s art of insanity

Caitlin Meyer Scotland   “Now I am disoriented and confused. I try in vain to find support; nothing seems solid, everything escapes me, deceives me. Our earthly hopes and desires are only vain fancies, our successes mere mirages that we try to grasp,” scrawled Théodore Géricault in a letter to his friend Dedreux-Dorcy in 1810.1 […]