Neither of the two most prolific writers of psychiatric novels in the 19th century were orthodox psychiatrists. Oliver W. Holmes, a family practitioner, occupied the Chair of Anatomy at Harvard Medical School; S. Weir Mitchell, 20 years his junior, began his medical career as a neurologist in Philadelphia.1 Scientific inquiry into mental phenomena, enhanced by enduring devotion to the practice of medicine, was a characteristic of each.
The world of the sick-bed explains in a measure some of the things that are strange in daily life.2
Although the designation "prudish" might be too harsh, Mitchell reflected his puritanical Philadelphia background in actions and writing. Attendance at Sunday school and church was habitual; games on Sunday and card playing at all times were considered evil by his parents. Mitchell was conservative in his approach to the subject of sex. Correspondence during his postgraduate days in Paris gave no indication
J. H. T.. SILAS WEIR MITCHELL. JAMA. 1961;176(13):1109–1111. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040260043011