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September 14, 1889

THE MASSACHUSETTS LUNACY LAW.Read in the Section of Medical Jurisprudence, at the Fortieth Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association, June 1889.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1889;XIII(11):361-365. doi:10.1001/jama.1889.02401080001001

The question of a revision of the lunacy laws of Massachusetts has excited much interest the past year, and may soon become the subject of legislative inquiry. Dr. Stephen Smith, ex-Lunacy Commissioner of New York, has published a "Report on the Commitment and Detention of the Insane," which recommends uniform legislation on these subjects.

Patients are now admitted at the Boston Lunatic Hospital in six different ways. The majority of them are regularly committed by the Judge of Probate on the certificate of two physicians. There is little to criticise in the law by which this is done, except the provision which forbids physicians connected with asylums from certifying. This is a reflection on their honesty not warranted by any experience in this country. The large number of private Asylums in England, kept by medical men for profit, rendered desirable a law that no physician should certify a patient into