JF Ptak Science Books Post 2072
Following a posting from a few days ago listing the causes of admittance of children to an insane asylum in Powick, U.K. from 1854-1900 comes this find--a rather extraordinary find, regarding the causes for admission as an insane person to the City Insane Asylum of New Orleans. This site has an incredible (and indelible) record of the patients admitted from 1882 through 1916 ("Orleans Parish (La.) Civil Sheriff Register of patients transported to the State Insane Asylum, 1882-1917"), including the reasons for confinement, as well as the causes of the debility, plus the age of the person and their occupation.
Following the link will get you to the year-by-year index of admittance--there is no standardized set of instructions or rules to identify the illness or supposed illness, so the way that the physician factored the mental disabilities of the patient was open to some wide interpretation.Some of the reasons for admittance included stupidity, alcoholism, idiocy, epilepsy (still about the leading "cause" for admission), imbecility, insanity, dementia praeox,hysteria, "delusional about Italians", religious mania, and so on.
"Responsibility for insane patients (particularly the indigent insane) housed in the City Insane Asylum (or in various hospitals after the city facility closed) fell to the City Physician, who was to visit patients at least once a day and to discharge those patients who had sufficiently recovered. He also identified those inmates who had remained in the asylum "over the time prescribed by law" and reported their names to the sheriff of Orleans Parish, who arranged their transfer to the State Asylum at Jackson, La."--Source
The major subset of the diagnosed diseases and illness was the "-mania". Aside from a general mania, there was an alpabetization of the competing manias, including religious-, chronic- , kelpto- , furious- , erato- , raving- , homicidal- , acute- , indcenidary- , puerpueral- , mono- , recurring- , delusional- , suicidal-, and a few others.
It is the "causes" of these challenges that seem to be the most viciously interesting part of this record. Stuff that sent people into maniacal flights or rages or depressions and other anti-social behavior included but was not limited to alcohol, syphilis, weak mindedness, heredity, drugs-in-excess, old age, "womb trouble", "attack of gripe", "poverty and want", jealousy, sunstroke, onanism, menopausia, hallucinations, masturbation, "mental worry", "family troubles", tobacco, softening of the brain, and so on.
There is room for someone here to go through the 30-odd years of entries to see what were the most/least common causes of mental instability--it would be an interesting list to see someone else generate.