Trade in Lunacy

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  • William Parry-Jones's characterization of private provision for mentally disordered people in England in the 18th and 19th centuries as the “trade in lunacy” aptly described a key element in the history of Western psychiatry. The development of public institutions for the insane poor in industrializing Britain was not adequate to meet growing demand from all classes in society. Individual practitioners and businessmen saw lucrative commercial opportunities and stepped in to fill the gaps, bringing both benefits and problems. One hundred years of almost unchecked expansion followed, but by the mid-19th century, the lunacy trade faced significant challenges.

    The Eighteenth Century

    The new Bethlem Hospital in London was opened in 1676, providing charitable care for the insane poor. By 1700, several private “madhouses” had been established in London ...

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    • Cultural Comparisons of Mental Health Disorders
    • Cultural Sociology of Mental Illness Around the World
    • Economics
    • Epidemiology
    • Mental Health Practitioners
    • Nondrug Treatments
    • The Patient
    • Psychiatry and Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Space
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Public Policy
    • Social History
    • Sociology
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