Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
by Jonathan Andrews and Andrew Scull (Medicine and Society), 364 pp, with illus, $35, ISBN 0-520-23151-1, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001.
Undertaker of the Mind examines the career of Dr John Monro, one of the key figures in early British psychiatry. A visiting physician to Bethlem, the oldest public asylum in England, Monro also cultivated a lucrative private practice and was one of the first expert witnesses to give evidence in court.
The book follows Monro from his appointment in 1751, when Bethlem still welcomed crowds of spectators, to his death in 1791, when the plight of George III, recovering from yet another bout of confusion, was transforming the popular perception of madness and mad-doctors. The book, in fact, encompasses more than just the life of Monro; it also describes related contemporary events, such as the trial and subsequent execution of "mad" Earl Ferrers, Alexander Cruden's campaign against his involuntary confinement, and the attempted assassination of the King by Margaret Nicholson. The authors are well-placed to undertake this research. Jonathan Andrews has previously coauthored The History of Bethlem,1 while Andrew Scull has written or coauthored several biographical accounts of British alienists, notably Masters of Bedlam.2
History, PsychiatryUndertaker of the Mind: John Monro and Mad-Doctoring in Eighteenth-Century England. JAMA. 2002;288(7):896-897. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.896-JBK0821-4-1