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February 1963

Bedlam in Sanity: A Return to the Anatomy of Melancholy on a Tour Conducted by Lawrence Babb

Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(2):145-148. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620260005002

Strangely enough one of the most popular books of all time is Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Not only is this book in its way an extraordinarily perceptive document in the often obscure realm of psychiatry, but it is full of outlandish and out-of-the-way erudition, a source book of much valid information and some misinformation. It happened to be brought forward in the spacious time when people with much leisure could spend hours rambling along with Burton wandering in his meandering display of vast quantities of learning. It is whimsical, charming, eccentric, full of examples of Burton's obsessions and compulsions. Possibly because it is disorganized and does not always clearly separate wheat from chaff timeless truth is mixed in with a great deal of pure balderdash. Now it has fallen from favor; or maybe we have no such repose of spirit and free time as it requires. Few physicians I

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