November 28, 1891

INSANITY AS RELATED TO CIVILIZATION.Read before the Section of Medical Jurisprudence, Washington Meeting American Medical Association, May, 1891.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1891;XVII(22):837-842. doi:10.1001/jama.1891.02411000015001c

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Insanity may not be, as is so commonly and confidently asserted, "a disease of civilization"—but conditions essential to the phenomenal manifestations of insanity obtain so rarely among savages and lower animals, and so frequently among civilized people, that, in the absence of contradictory testimony, the assumption that it is so, would seem to be justified. The question then becomes pertinent and interesting: What constitutional modifications are effected by, or with, the process of civilization, whereby human beings are rendered more liable to become insane? Who shall answer?

By common consent the medical profession is looked to for intelligent answers to all questions pertaining to insanity, and the insane. Is the profession qualified to so answer?

Qualified or not, there are members of the profession ever ready to respond; the least qualified, often, being the readiest. Capability to talk volubly, or write voluminously, about insanity—or any other subject, for that matter—with

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