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May 13, 1905


JAMA. 1905;XLIV(19):1539. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.02500460047013

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A certain asylum superintendent is credited with the remarkable statement that there is no greater crime against the state than holding religious revivals; he considers religious enthusiasm as one of the chief causes if not the chief cause of insanity. It is odd that this discovery has not been made before by the many competent alienists who have studied the causation of insanity. Religious excitement, in common with other varieties of emotional stress, such as domestic troubles, business failures, political campaigns, etc., has been generally recognized as a cause of insanity, but only as a secondary one and usually only as an exciting cause in specially unstable subjects. In fact, the greatest extravagances in religious revivals and the highest expression of emotionalism in religion occur in the communities where actual insanity is comparatively infrequent. The negroes have always been especially subject to such exciting causes, but before they received their

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