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A Brief History of Madness 3 the Law

A Brief History of Madness 3 the Law

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Published by Alan Challoner
It will be seen from this paper that attempts to segregate certain people from society have been a regular procedure for several centuries. What is remarkable is that although there have been those who sought more understanding and tolerance for persons who were not well-equipped to take a normal place in society; there is still continued intolerance and there is much progress to be made in both accepting and making adequate provision for those people.
It will be seen from this paper that attempts to segregate certain people from society have been a regular procedure for several centuries. What is remarkable is that although there have been those who sought more understanding and tolerance for persons who were not well-equipped to take a normal place in society; there is still continued intolerance and there is much progress to be made in both accepting and making adequate provision for those people.

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Published by: Alan Challoner on Feb 16, 2009
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A Brief History of MadnessPart 3The Law
Alan Challoner MA MChS
One of the earliest uses of insanity as a defence was described by RichardCosin in his account of the conspiracy of William Hacket, Edmund Coppingerand Henry Arthington in connection with their attempt to overthrow thegovernment in the last decade of the sixteenth century.Hacket was the chief conspirator and he was led into his mischief by a newlyacquired religious fervour. He believed that he was the messenger of JesusChrist who was coming to judge the earth and England in particular. He calledfor general repentance and styled himself as King of Europe. His treasonableactivity was to imply that the Queen had forfeited her crown by actions thatought to deprive her of her majestical rôle.At his trial Hacket behaved abominably and brought great astonishment andhorror to those present not only by the blasphemies that he spoke but thewords that he used in describing the alleged heresies. The Judges were inclinedto believe that this was just a show to try and make out that he was mad. ButCosin understanding that some of his testimony was lucid and pertinentconcluded that his supposed insanity may not be entirely feigned. He based hisapproach on the distinctive degrees and varieties of mental illness in relation tolegal responsibility. In Hacket's case he sort to show that the doubt should beset against the reality in that it was not what was done that mattered here butthe reasons for it. He sought to persuade that Hacket and his cohorts wereguilty as their avowed purpose was to overthrow the monarchy and theEstablished Church.Hacket was subsequently found guilty and hanged. Coppinger went on 'hungerstrike' and died in jail. Arthington sincerely and unreservedly repented. Thiscase pointed the way to another policy that is pursued in actions of conspiracythat the only necessary treatment in cases of communicated insanity is toseparate the inducer from those induced.
One of the earliest Acts of Parliament which dealt with those who were mad ormentally deficient was brought into being under Henry VIII in 1540. Under thisAct the Court of Wards and Liveries was established. Immediately prior to thisAct such people and their property, if they were incapable of managing it, cameunder the auspices of the Court of Chancery. At an earlier time such controlwas with the Exchequer, and before that under the baron of the land held. By1672 due to various irregularities that had occurred and had not been foreseenin the Act of 1540, Charles II brought the care and protection of the
non composmentis
back within the control of the Lord Chancellor.
 The way in which these early Acts worked has been documented by one of thephysicians of Bethlem Hospital, Dr Helkiah Crooke. It concerned one of hisprivate patients, Edmund Francklin, who was found to be unable to manage hisestate in Bedford. In 1630 the responsibility for the estate was handed over tohis brothers, George, Nicholas and John Francklin.Edmund was committed to a house and not to the hospital. During his timethere he was found to have behaved in a violent and outrageous manner over aperiod of two years and was interviewed at home by Doctor Crooke. Havingsatisfied himself that complaints were well founded Crooke transported Edmundto his own house in London and there treated him according to his infirmity.Whilst separated from his estate he took no part in its management norreceived any rents or other moneys from it. The estate did however providetwo hundred pounds a year for the food and care that Edmund receivedincluding the provision of two menservants.
Robinson Crusoe
as a product of the pen of Daniel Defoe has survived farlonger than his other writings which had a much more substantial sociologicalimpact at the time. Daniel Defoe is now mainly thought of as a novelist but thisis not how his contemporaries regarded him. His reputation in his lifetime wasas a poet, a journalist, and a polemical writer on political, economic and socialaffairs. The quantity and range of his writings is unparalleled in EnglishLiterature, and few writers have made such a lasting impact in so many literarygenres. Two important areas of reform which he advocated were eventuallybrought into the area of statutory law.One concerned natural fools and idiots, as they were called in his day, whichwere institutionalized together with all types of patients with mental illness.Defoe took a stand on the need to separate them, and house the mentaldefectives separately. He wrote eloquently and touchingly in support of theircare.“I think 'twould very well become this wise age to take care of such; andperhaps they are a particular rent-charge on the great family of mankind,left by the Maker of us all; like a younger brother, who tho' the estate begiven from him, yet his father expected the heir should take some care of him. ““If I were to be asked who ought in particular to be charged with thiswork, I would answer in general, those who have a portion of understanding extraordinary. Not that I would lay a tax upon any man'sbrains or discourage wit, by appointing wise men to maintain fools; butsome tribute is due to God's goodness for bestowing extraordinary gifts,and who can it better be paid to than such as suffer for want of the sameBounty?”
 He put forward the unique proposal that such places might be paid for by a 'Taxupon Learning'. This, he suggested, should be a payment by authors from thesale of their books.Another area of concern for Defoe was the way in which the madhouses wereregulated. He pin-pointed this in his periodical,
 A Review of the State of theEnglish Nation
, in 1728. He took umbrage at the lack of legal supervision of the
doctors who ran these institutions. He drew particular attention to a case of apatient in the care of Dr Edward Tyson.
 In general he reviled those husbands who sought to have there wives removedto the madhouse on any pretext when they wanted to transfer their favours tosome other woman; and of course those doctors who facilitated this.He called it, “The height of barbarity and injustice in a Christian country,it is a clandestine inquisition”. He followed this with even more invective.“If they are not mad when they go into these cursed houses they aresoon made so by the barbarous usage they there suffer ... Is it notenough to make anyone mad to be suddenly clapped up, stripped,whipped, ill-fed, and worse used? To have no reason assigned for suchtreatment, no crime alleged or accusers to confront; and worse, no soulto appeal to but merciless creatures who answer but in laughter,surliness, contradiction and too often stripes?”Some twenty years later he reactivated his reforming zeal, recommending thatprivate madhouses should be licensed and inspected. Eventually, in the wakeof his proposals, a Parliamentary Committee was set up. This resulted in the1774 Act for Regulating Madhouses. The Act was limited to the safeguarding of the liberty of private patients and did not include in its provisions any of theinsane paupers. The main provisions were:1.No person was to keep more than one lunatic in his house withouta licence, which were to be granted in the London area by fivefellows of the College of Physicians, designated Commissioners. Inthe provinces it was the Quarter Sessions that granted the licenceson payment by the 'keeper' of £100 plus two further sureties of £50 to be of 'good behaviour'.2.The houses were to be inspected at least once a year and minuteswere to be kept of the findings.3.Every madhouse keeper was to notify admission of a patient withinthree days if located in London, or within fourteen days if locatedin the provinces.4.No person to be admitted without having an Order in writing underthe hand and seal of a physician, surgeon or apothecary.5.Any complaints against the keeper were to be heard in the courseof common law; and any infringements of the Act for harbouringmore than one lunatic without a licence called for a fine of £500. There was little express vigilance demanded by this Act and it relied on theintegrity and initiative of the Commissioners and the Justices.
onducted anatomical experiments and dissections and published anatomical accounts of the lumpfish, rattlesnake, shark and porpoise. He was known for work on a chimpanzee which heviewed as an intermediate between humans and apes. Tyson was also elected a fellow of theRoyal College of Physicians and later he served as a censor of the college. In 1684 Tyson wasappointed to two positions which had just become vacant – the Ventera readership in anatomy atthe Surgeons Hall, from which he retired in 1699, and physician to Bethlehem and BridewellHospitals, the world’s oldest psychiatric hospital, now the Royal Bethlehem Hospital. He laterserved as its governor. In 1686 Tyson was elected a member of the Philosophical Society of Oxford.

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