You are on page 1of 23

History of Psychiatry

http://hpy.sagepub.com

To What Purpose Does It Think?: Dreams, Sick Bodies and Confused Minds
in the Age of Reason
Lucia Dacome
History of Psychiatry 2004; 15; 395
DOI: 10.1177/0957154X04041644
The online version of this article can be found at:
http://hpy.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/15/4/395

Published by:
http://www.sagepublications.com

Additional services and information for History of Psychiatry can be found at:
Email Alerts: http://hpy.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts
Subscriptions: http://hpy.sagepub.com/subscriptions
Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav
Permissions: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
Citations http://hpy.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/15/4/395

Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 1

History of Psychiatry, 15(4): 395416 Copyright 2004 SAGE Publications


(London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) www.sagepublications.com
[200412] DOI: 10.1177/0957154X04041644

To what purpose does it think?: dreams, sick


bodies and confused minds in the Age of
Reason
LUCIA DACOME*
The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL

This paper investigates the debate on the nature of dreams that took place in
eighteenth-century Britain. Focusing on the increasingly popular view of the
time that perfect sleep was sleep without dreams, it examines the medicalization
of dreaming that developed alongside the conceptualization of dreams as
instances of mental derangement. At the end of the seventeenth century, John
Locke had likened dreaming to madness and drunkenness, and characterized it
as a disturbance of the self. In the course of the eighteenth century, physicians,
religious preachers, champions of politeness and moral philosophers all provided
competing accounts of the doubling of consciousness which was incidental to
dreaming. This paper situates their attempts in the context of a re-assessment of
the authorities that defined what constituted credible and reliable thinking. It
does so by drawing attention to the body as one of the crucial sites in which
changing attitudes towards dreaming were discussed and negotiated.
Keywords: body; consciousness; dreams; enthusiasm; Locke; mind; regimen;
self; sleep

his essay considers the process of medicalization of dreaming which


informed the eighteenth-century view that perfect sleep was sleep without
dreams. Present-day readers may find the implications of this view rather
peculiar. In the post-Freudian era, the tenet that dreams are functional to
well-being has become a widely shared assumption. By contrast, in early
eighteenth-century Britain, the challenges of the dreaming mind were all too

* Address for correspondence: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at
UCL, 24 Eversholt Street, London, NW1 1AD, UK. Email: l.dacome@ucl.ac.uk
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

396

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 2

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

obvious to those who linked lack of control over the mind with lack of
control over the Mind Politic. Sleep and dreams fell at the centre of a
debate on the status of mental images. Participants in the controversy
wondered about the causes of dreams and the mode of their interpretation.
They did so at a time in which mystical groups such as the Millenarians, the
Philadelphians and the French Prophets evoked the old ghost of enthusiasm
and its subversive power (see Schwartz, 1978, 1980; also Heyd, 1995a).
By the beginning of the eighteenth century, enthusiasm had accumulated a
remarkable record as a destabilizing presence in society. At the time of the
Civil War, enthusiasts had been regarded as people who believed that
political overturning was possible because an inner light and an unruly voice
had spread the news right inside their minds.1 In the days of the Restoration,
those who feared political outbreaks regarded the members of these groups
as people who took their own ravings for supernatural messages.2 It is true
that in the early eighteenth century enthusiasm was not quite as socially and
politically threatening as it had been in previous decades, yet it was still
regarded as a potential challenge to social order. In August 1712, Joseph
Addison stormed in The Spectator at those Swarms of Sectaries that over-ran
the Nation in the time of the great Rebellion and converted our whole
Language into a Jargon of Enthusiasm (Addison, 1965, Vol. 4: 117). And in
1718 the periodical The Free-Thinker, edited by Ambrose Philips, devoted a
number of articles to enthusiasm, characterizing it
as an overweening, and groundless Persuasion of being the particular
Favourite of Heaven; of being inspired from thence with every wild
Fancy, that happens to spring up in a warm and distempered Brain; for
no other Reason, but because he imagines so, and feels a rapturous
Pleasure in the Conceit of it. To one possessed with this Notion, every
Crime becomes lawful, and every Design, that turns up in his Head, is a
divine Impulse. He robs, he murders, he overturns the World, if he can;
and all is right, all is approved by God. (Philips, 1733, Vol. 1: 1012)

Instances of enthusiasm accordingly included cases of people who were


driven by their Phrenzy to disturb the World, thinking that they had been
sent by God to overturn Nations (Philips, 1733, Vol. 2: 73). In general,
enthusiasm was seen as highly prejudicial to the Interests of Society
(Philips, 1733, Vol. 2: 130). Against the risks it entailed, anti-enthusiast
writers engaged in discrediting the authority of its promoters.
Eighteenth-century discussions on dreaming developed alongside this
operation of neutralization. Dreams, as much as ecstatic visions, were
unrelated to the external world. And yet dreamers could stage scenarios of
social and political overturning, and interpret them in the light of their own
inner conviction, just as the enthusiasts did. Dreams were furthermore
regarded as particularly suited to the reception of divine messages. During
dreams, resignation of the will facilitated spiritual intervention; passivity of
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 3

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

397

thought guaranteed the authenticity of inspiration (Schwartz, 1980: 1634).


While enthusiasts read in their dreams the signs of a divine commission, antienthusiast writers were engaged in offering alternative readings to the
hermeneutics of the mystic. Their strategies included warning dreamers
about the fact that fancying being a king did not mean that one had received
divine investiture and might in fact signify, more prosaically, a redundancy of
yellow bile.
The re-codification of dreams as symptoms of corporeal disorder was
articulated alongside the conceptualization of dreaming as an instance of
madness. At the centre of anti-enthusiast concerns about loss of mental
control in dreams there lay the splitting of consciousness that was incidental
to dreaming. Writers on dreaming observed that in dreams we not only see
ourselves acting, but also perform someone elses part without knowing that
we do so. We are masters of what we experience and at the same time we lose
contact with ourselves. For the inspired, this splitting of consciousness was a
sign of divine intervention. For critics of enthusiasm, it constituted a
manifestation of mental derangement and the symptom of a distempered
body. Nor was it just a matter of discrediting the claims of inspiration made
by the enthusiasts; for in fact the medicalization of dreaming also played an
active part in establishing parameters of authoritative thinking against the
inherently deceptive nature of dreams. While bodily domestication was being
advocated as part of a more general pursuit of health, the pathologization of
dreaming helped legitimize a new model of the credible mind, one in which
the elimination of the vagaries of the mind was to be carried out by means of
body policing.
Brain moonshines and doubled consciousness
One may wonder why, at the end of his entry on Songer in Diderot and
dAlemberts Encyclopdie (17511772, Vol. 15: 3589), the Chevalier de
Jaucourt urged those who wanted to have further insight into this way of
thinking to acquaint themselves with John Lockes own discussion of the
topic.3 In fact, Locke did not seem to have a high opinion of dreaming as a
way of thinking. Dreaming being for Locke the having of Ideas4 in the mind
that were not suggested by any external Objects, or known occasion; nor
under any Choice or Conduct of the Understanding it was nothing but an
imperfect mode of thinking. Sleeping without dreams was, then, rest from
ideas (Locke, 1975: 227). In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding,
Locke identified in sleep and dreams the limits of personal identity. While
discussing the notions of identity and diversity, he presented sleep and
dreams as interruptions of consciousness comparable to madness and
drunkenness, disturbances of the self (pp. 11014, 342). Again in the Essay,
he suggested that dreaming may be likened to Extasy: a disturbance of the
understanding. The same applied to Reverie or the state in which Ideas float
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 4

398

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

in our mind, without any reflection or regard of the Understanding (p. 227).
The irrelevance of dreams to the economy of the understanding was
exemplified by the case of a man who was bred a Scholar, and had no bad
Memory, and yet could not recall having had any dream until he was about
twenty-five or twenty-six years old. Such cases brought Locke (p. 112) to
contend that, if the sleeping mind
has no memory of its own Thoughts; if it cannot lay them up for its use,
and be able to recal them upon occasion; if it cannot reflect upon what
is past, and make use of its former Experiences, Reasonings, and
Contemplations, to what purpose does it think?

Lockes disregard for dreaming was related to his emphasis on the role of the
perceiving body in the activity of the mind. While the perfection of thinking
lay in the self-awareness of the waking body, proper sleep coincided with the
total suspension of the minds operations. Although Locke was ready to
admit that the Dreams of sleeping Men were all made up of the waking
Mans Ideas, these ideas were oddly put together, did not follow the
customary patterns of association, and were thus little comfortable to the
Perfection and Order of a rational Being (p. 113). Dreaming was then
nothing but a form of madness. Being the outcome of a disorder in the chain
of association, it constituted a deviation from the natural course of the
understanding. The consequences of Lockes account were remarkable:
sleeping coincided with the cessation of the self while dreaming gave rise to a
new self. The sleeping/dreaming mind and the waking mind were actually so
different that, as Locke put it in a famous adage, Socrates asleep, and Socrates
awake, is not the same Person; but his Soul when he sleeps, and Socrates the
Man consisting of Body and Soul when he is waking, are two Persons (p. 110).
Such a statement was not without consequences. Much of the eighteenthcentury discussions on dreaming engaged in answering a part of the puzzle to
which Lockes view naturally gave rise: who was Socrates asleep?5
Languishing bodies and cheating minds
Anti-enthusiast supporters followed Locke in arguing that the doubling of
consciousness occasioned by dreaming was a useless mental burden, nothing
but imperfect and confused thinking.6 In 1709 John Trenchard published
anonymously his Natural History of Superstition where he gave a comprehensive account of dreams, visions and other delusions of the mind to show
that it all depended upon the body. Trenchard was a Lockean and believed
that the organs of sense were Avenues and Doors to let in external objects.
But unlike Locke, who had left physiology out of his account of the
development of the Understanding, Trenchard regarded ideas and mental
operations as products of the agitations and motions of the internal parts of
our own Bodies (Trenchard, 1709: 12). Both when sleeping and awake,
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 5

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

399

Trenchard observed, superstitious beliefs and religious imagination were


nothing but the outcomes of a diseased body. Hallucinations originated when
Men have abandoned the natural calm and serenity of their Minds, and
disturbed their Organs with wild imaginations (p. 16). Dreaming as well as
cloudy emotions, supernatural apparitions, panic fears and ecstatic visions
depended, then, on nothing but the occlusion of the senses.
Trenchard had little doubt as to the causes of this occlusion. He
emphasized that Ignorance, Pride, Conceit, ill habit of Body, Melancholly
and Splenatick Tempers, unfortunate Circumstances, causeless and secret
Fears, and a pannick disposition of Mind (pp. 1617) were responsible for
letting the external objects to be wholly or in a great measure shut out and
excluded (p. 13). In particular, he maintained that Ignorance of Causes
makes us mistake
the Phantasms and Images of our own Brains (which have no existence
any where else) for real Beings, and subsisting without us, as in Dreams
where we see Persons and Things, feel Pain and Pleasure, form Designs,
hear and make Discourses, and sometimes the Objects are represented so
Lively to our Fancies, and the Impressions so Strong, that it would be
hard to distinguish them from Realities, if we did not find our selves in
Bed. (p. 11)

Together with Trenchard, others fashioned the vagaries of the dreaming


mind, as well as the claims of the inspired, in terms of sickness and
imposture.7 A whole genre of anti-enthusiast literature characterized the
visions of the prophets in terms of madness, melancholy, over-heated brains
and deception.8 In this literature, enthusiasts were depicted as deluded
zealots who did the strangest things in the name of the unpredictable dictata
of their inflamed imaginations: they fell into a trance, spoke with altered
utterance, moaned, murmured, talked with their belly and announced
millenarian prophecies in unintelligible languages.9 In a text of 1708 tackling
Francis Moults claims regarding the divine inspiration of prophets, it was
observed that
there are known Cheats and Juglers in the World calld Ventriloqui, or
Belly speakers, who by a Craft to manage the Voice, seem to speak as if it
came out of the Belly. Now could you but get one of these to manage the
Religious Trick by your Sect set up, undoubtedly he would quickly make
Voluntary Motions seem to be Involuntary, which conjoynd with an Inward
murmuring Voice in the Belly will unquestionably pass for a Compleat
Prophet, at least one Big of Inspiration and longing to be Delivered.
(Philadelphus, 1708: 1213)

When not a voluntary act of deception, the unusual behaviour of the


inspired was to be regarded as the outcome of a hysterical fit. Had you
read more of Physic, and less of Jacob Bekmen, Moult was reproached,
you might find several Instances of Men, Women, and Children, acted by
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

400

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 6

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

Involuntary Motions in Hysteric Fitts, nay, Sing to perfection, tho in their


natural State of Health, never could Sing the least Note, Climb up Walls
like Cats and do abundance of such Prodigious wonderful Actions (vid.
Dr. Willis de Passione Hysterica). All which no sober Men, can, or will
Attribute to a Supernatural Agency. (Philadelphus, 1708: 13; quoted in
Heyd, 1995a: 198)

The association between enthusiasm and nervous disorder remained an


argumentative column of the literature on enthusiasm. In 1708 the third Earl
of Shaftesbury observed in his Letter Concerning Enthusiasm that melancholy
accompanied all forms of enthusiasm, and nothing could put a stop to the
growing mischief till the Melancholy be removd (Shaftesbury, 1708: 21).
In the following years, part of the anti-enthusiast propaganda focused on the
cure of the body as an antidote to both enthusiasm and other forms of
mental vagary. In 1718 The Free-Thinker described enthusiasm as a kind of
irregular, and almost unaccountable Madness that in some cases may come
more properly under the Care of the Physician, than the Consideration of
the Philosopher; and may require Prescriptions for the Body, rather than
Applications to the Mind (Philips, 1733, Vol. 2: 73).10 Well into the century,
works bearing unequivocal titles such as [George Lavingtons] The
Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared (1749), Thomas Greens A
Dissertation on Enthusiasm; Shewing the Danger of its late Increase, and the Great
Mischiefs it has occasioned, both in ancient and modern Times (1755), and
[William Masons] Methodism displayed, and Enthusiasm detected; Intended as
an Antidote against, and a Preservative from the delusive Principles and
unscriptural Doctrines of a Modern Sett of Seducing Preachers (1756) variously
resumed the motif of the deluded enthusiast, and targeted new generations of
enthusiasts, mystics, spiritual leaders and instigators of religious madness.
Among them, the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, with his
style of preaching engendering epidemics of collective melancholy, fell at the
centre of the attacks.11
The goal of neutralization was in itself a political programme: at stake was
not only a bodily-rooted view of the mind against the conception of a
divinely inspired soul, but also Whigs were set against Tories, and the Low
Church against religious fanaticism, Anglican clergy, Catholic priests, and
sectarians such as the French Prophets. Nor was it merely a problem of
Prescriptions for the Body as opposed to the Applications to the Mind, as
The Free-Thinker had suggested. In fact, anti-enthusiast writers called for the
improvement of the mind against those who claimed that thanks to
inspiration they had a more expeditious Method of coming at Knowledge
and Wisdom, than by Study, and Reflection, and Experience (Philips, 1733,
Vol. 2: 130). In this sense, the anti-enthusiast mood implied not only the
emulation of polite, cultivated and controlled understandings against the
passive, intuitive and unlearned minds of the inspired, but also the choice of
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 7

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

401

a style of life. The Free-Thinker, for instance, advocated the Use of Books,
the Advantage of Languages, and the Improvements of Conversation against
the Clouds of Intuitive Darkness (Philips, 1733, Vol. 2: 1301).
The opposition of dreaming/deranged versus controlled/sane minds, on
the one hand, and healthy versus sick bodies, on the other, raised issues of
gender. At the time of the Civil War, women had been given authority as
prophets (see Wiseman, 1992). In the mid-seventeenth century, for instance,
prophets such as Lady Eleanor Tichet or Touchet and Anna Trapnel had
acted as spiritual authorities (Hayes, 1996; Mack, 1992).12 Well into the
eighteenth century, moreover, mystics such as Antoinette Bourignon and
Madame Guyon continued to offer enduring models of spiritual guidance.
On the other hand, alongside the growing necessity of subjecting minds to
criteria of surveillance, the extent to which womens understanding could be
trained to meet the standards of anti-enthusiast thinking became the object
of debate. The context of such discussions was articulated within contemporary
views of womens proverbial tenderness of nerves, held to cause liability to
bodily disorder and mental distress.13 In his Treatise of the Hypochondriack and
Hysterick Passions (1711), for instance, Bernard de Mandeville remarked that
womens delicacy of frame was Conspicuous in all their actions, those of the
Brain not excepted. Women were thus unfit both for abstruse and elaborate
Thoughts, all studies of Depth, Coherence, and Solidity that fatigue the
Spirits, and require a steadiness and assiduity of thinking. On the other
hand, where the Advantages of Education and Knowledge were equal,
women exceeded men in Sprightliness of Fancy, quickness of Thought and
offhand Wit as much as they outdid them in sweetness of Voice, and
Volubility of Tongue (Mandeville, 1711: 1745). Polite literature largely
agreed that the tenderness of womens nerves lay at the basis of their skills in
conversation, making them witty, sharp and sprightly companions. Yet, this
very delicacy exposed them to the vapours, melancholy and inconstancy. In
short, although women could be literate, polite and conversant, the question
as to whether they could really be in control of their own thoughts remained
to be answered. Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse have observed
that early eighteenth-century discussions on dreaming and, in particular,
discussions that elaborated the themes of Lockes own treatment of the
subject, played a part in the genealogy of eighteenth-century representations
of women as naturally dreamy, illogical and inconstant. By characterizing
dreams as a deviant mental product, Locke fashioned dreaming as a
category for alternative modes of thought related to the absence of reason.
Within this category, peculiarly feminine states of mind were discovered and
classified as such throughout the century (Armstrong and Tennenhouse,
1990: 460). Alongside the growing demand for controlled minds, women
were increasingly portrayed in the act of sleeping, dreaming, day-dreaming,
or designated, as we shall see, as the natural victims of devastating
nightmares.
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 8

402

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

Passive minds and foreign impressions


From the 1730s, the debate on dreaming largely concentrated on Andrew
Baxters conclusions in his Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul (1733),
where Baxter had re-addressed the arguments of the inspired in philosophical
fashion. Not a mystic himself, Baxter had grown up in Aberdeen at a time in
which the city had made a name for itself as one of the centres of NorthEastern mysticism (Henderson, 1934).14 Having graduated from Kings
College, Aberdeen, he spent a great deal of his professional life as a tutor in
the service of private families. In the 1730s, the publication of his Enquiry
consolidated his fame as a philosopher.15 Baxter (1733: 219) maintained that
self-consciousness was the surest and most intuitive foundation of all our
knowledge. His concern with dreaming lay in the observation that since
during dreams the mind acted by itself, and separately, so as to be a different
person, the Cartesian principle Cogito, ergo sum may no longer be true
(pp. 201, 219). In fact, the blurring of the evidence of self-consciousness
cancelled every distinction between our own consciousness and that of another
person. In particular, the splitting of consciousness incidental to dreaming
manifested itself in the following way: I think another person speaks or acts so
and so; yet it is really I myself who speak and act Contrarily therefore, I
think I myself say or do such a thing; yet it may be another person (p. 219).
Far from being a strange outcome of the sleeping mind, in Baxters view this
doubling was caused by supernatural intervention. As he put it (p. 201):
most of those representations, which are offered to the soul in sleep, are not
only produced by it, since it hath no consciousness of any act of the will to
introduce them; but they are involuntarily obtruded upon it.
Baxters account of dreaming relied on the physiology of the sensory. In line
with contemporary medical and philosophical literature, it portrayed the
sensorium as an organ mediating between body and mind.16 Being placed at the
terminal ends of the nerves, the sensorium presented bodily perceptions to the
mind. During sleep it closed up, and thus the communication between body
and mind was interrupted or at least impaired. In this situation, when all was at
rest and silent, the mind was separated from the body. This made it possible for
external spiritual beings to leave new and foreign impressions so that the mind
would end up hearing, seeing, and feeling objects not as it would itself, but
such as they are made to appear to it (Baxter, 1733: 198201).
Baxters text on dreaming proved popular and controversial.17 In 1738
Thomas Branch, author of Thoughts on Dreaming, summed up the ongoing
discussion on dreaming in the following terms:
The State of Sleep has been considered in very different, nay, opposite
Lights. Some have thence argued the Materiality of the Soul; attributing
the Inconsistency and seeming Irrationality, of Dreams, to the Bodys
Sleep; and from the want of constantly remembring them, have inclined
to suppose Sleep an Affection of the whole Man, Soul and Body. Others
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 9

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

403

contend, that the Senses being then laid aside, the Soul is to be regarded
as in a kind of separate State; and from its Operations in Sleep, they infer
its Immateriality, and the Likelyhood of exercising its Faculties when
entirely divested of the Body. (Branch, 1738: 2)

Baxter had claimed that not only the doubling of consciousness but also its
supernatural nature were matters of common experience. On both sides of
the debate, readers responded with comments and variations on the doubling
of consciousness, the way in which the doubling manifested, the loss of self it
implied. In the extract from a letter of 14 June 1740 which was published in
The Scots Magazine (1763) under the title Strange phenomena in dreaming,
an eminent divine reported to Baxter to have felt in dreams a double
identity, and confessed to have dreamt of being conversing with another
and, at the same time, of being very inquisitive and desirous to know the
subject of the conversation, which seemed to be carefully kept from me.
Other reactions to Baxter took the form of monographic works exploring
for instance the Notion of the Sensory, and the Opinion that it is shut up for the
Inspection of the Soul in Sleep, and that Spirits supply us with all our Dreams, as
it was spelled out in the title-page of Thomas Branchs Thoughts upon
Dreaming. Although Branchs work criticized Baxters thesis of supernatural
intervention, it shared Baxters bafflement at what Branch (1738: 68) called
the greatest Mystery in Dreaming, namely, the doubling of consciousness.
Branchs worries therefore overlapped with Baxters own in relation to the
concern that being on all Hands agreed that Consciousness identifies, or
makes us be ourselves, the want of it would certainly divest us of that
Identity (Branch, 1738: 30). Yet, the doubling of consciousness was
compelling; and thus, although we are conscious that we perform our own
Parts and have not the least perception that we act the others, we
nevertheless
make Speeches or Answers for other imaginary Persons, and put Doubts
in their mouths which we find ourselves unable to solve, and are ashamed
of our Ignorance; or receive Information from others when we hesitate
ourselves; and still want Consciousness that this is all our own doing.
(p. 67)

Branchs critique of Baxter lay in the account of how this happened. In fact,
Branchs understanding of the doubling of consciousness largely relied on the
Lockean philosophy of association: dreaming was a kind of thinking and was
dependent on the souls capacity to compound, divide and transpose what it
finds in the memory. Dreams extravagant narratives were then caused by the
power of imagination forming Multitudes of Appearances and Scenes that
had not previously existed together in the mind (p. 9). In general, dreams
were nothing but Thoughts during Sleep (pp. 834).
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

404

Page 10

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

Dreaming degree zero


Critics of Baxter returned time and again to the same point: not only were
dreams forms of thought but also thinking itself could not be distinguished
from dreaming. In The Gentlemans Magazine (1754), a letter enquiring into
the Causes of Dreams replied to those of no inconsiderable note in the
republick of letters, who maintained that dreams were the suggestions of
spiritual beings, that not only was dreaming an imperfect and confused form
of thinking, but also waking thoughts were not themselves necessarily
attended with consciousness. The following year J. Richardson (1755:
212) concluded that dreaming and thinking were so nearly of one and the
same Species that
the Mind is no more out of the Body (as some have been stupid enough
to imagine) when we dream, than One is at St. Pauls Church in London
when he chances to think upon that Grand and Noble Fabrick, at an
Hundred Miles Distance, when he is awake. (pp. 1718)

Yet again, some observed, no matter whether asleep or awake such fancies of
the imagination were so compelling that they made dreamers believe
themselves to be really speaking, reading, writing, sailing and flying even
when, in fact, there were no real sensations (Branch, 1738: 69).
The inability to distinguish between perception and illusion had
represented a crucial point of the literature on enthusiasm. In his Letter
Concerning Enthusiasm, the third Earl of Shaftesbury had emphasized that in
religious enthusiasm the Evidence of the Senses was lost, as in a Dream;
and the Imagination so inflamd, as in a moment to have burnt up every
Particle of Judgment and Reason (Shaftesbury, 1708: 69). Along similar
lines, as we have seen, the analogy between dreaming and frenzy had
informed John Trenchards and The Free-Thinkers anti-enthusiast interventions. The same analogy also appeared in the literature on dreaming in
relation to the supposed Use of the Senses in Sleep (Branch, 1738: 69) that
makes us seem to perceive Things by our Senses, of which there are no Real
Sensations ([Mayne], 1728: 183). In 1728, in the anonymous Two Dissertations
concerning Sense, and the Imagination. With an Essay on Consciousness, attributed
to Zachary Mayne, it was observed that a melancholy or half-mad Person is
somewhat in the same Condition with Him who, not being thoroughly
Awake, is doubtful whether his Dream be not true or something real.
Although the physiology of dreams and madness differed in the sense that
the bodily organs of Mad-men are shattered, or put out of their natural
Frame and Order, whereas in Dreamers, there is a Stupor which possesseth
them, their effects were invariably the same. This could be ascertained from
a number of aspects madness shared with dreaming, including MadFolks
fancying themselves to be other Beings than they are as well as their not
knowing themselves to be Mad; and when recovered of their Madness, their
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 11

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

405

considering it, as a Man awake does his past Dreams ([Mayne], 1728:
188).
Such similarities had been at the centre of anti-enthusiast attempts to
place proper and legitimate thinking in opposition to the ravings of the
enthusiast. Trenchard had likened dreaming to madness and suggested that
in dreams, as well as in instances of frenzy, images unrelated to the external
world reigned without any Rival striking strongly upon, and affecting the
Brain, Spirits, or Organ, where the imaginative Faculty resides (Trenchard,
1709: 13). In both cases, Trenchard suggested, these were the effects of
affections of the body and ought to be cured by means of Physick or
Surgery (p. 18). Trenchards view rested on his conviction that a due
temperament of Body gave Sound Sleep without any Dreams at all (p. 23).
Having informed anti-enthusiast writings, the tenet that healthy sleep was
sleep without dreams was appropriated by the medical literature that called
for low regimen and self-restraint. In this literature, dreams were regarded as
the outcome of excess, and sleep without dreams constituted one of the goals
of proper bodily management. In 1753 the Scottish physician John Bond,
author of a monographic work on the nightmare, associated pathologies of
sleep such as the nightmare with immoderate behaviour and excessive
consumption. He then wondered whether dreaming may not be considerd
as a Disorder of the Body, and justly attributed to some cause, which
stimulates the Sensorium Commune, and prevents perfect rest (Bond, 1753:
24). But if dreams were engendered by bodily illness, nightmares were
themselves considered to be lethal distempers.18 Their cure required, again,
the imposition of patterns of self-restraint.
Domesticating the incubus
In his popular work on self-help, Domestic Medicine (1769), William Buchan
wrote that in nightmares, patients feel an uncommon oppression or a weight
in the breast or in the stomach. They groan, cry and speak in vain. They
imagine themselves engaged with enemies, in danger of being killed and
unable to escape. Sometimes they believe they are in a house that is on fire or
in danger of drowning in a river (Buchan, 1769: 552). Because of their
violent and dramatic manifestations, nightmares ended up occupying a
special place in the mid-century debate on the nature of uncontrolled mental
images. As dramatic instances of the work of the mind during sleep, they lay
at the centre of the dispute between those who took dreams to be the effect
of supernatural intervention and those who regarded them as manifestations
of bodily illness. In his Essay on the Phenomenon of Dreaming, Andrew
Baxter had drawn on this special case of mental splitting to support his thesis
of supernatural intervention. He had asserted that it would be absurd to say
the soul would lay a plot to frighten itself, and then be foolishly in real terror with
its own designs. To make this succeed, Baxter warned, would imply that
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

406

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 12

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

the soul ought to be two distinct Beings, each ignorant of the others
consciousness and designs (Baxter, 1733: 203). Baxters claims about
nightmares generated as much criticism as his views on dreaming. In polite
periodicals and in the medical literature, critics of Baxter dwelled yet again
on the argument that identified uncontrolled thinking with dreaming. They
emphasized that night-mares could not be caused by spiritual beings because
uncontrolled waking thoughts proved, in fact, to be equally unruly. In 1754,
for instance, readers of The Gentlemans Magazine (1754: 36) were warned
that
as to the other argument drawn from the improbability of our tormenting
ourselves with frightful images, it will have no weight with those who
consider how apt our waking thoughts are to rove and wander, and that
we are so far from having an absolute command over them that, in spite
of ourselves, they will often run out upon unpleasing and even horrid and
terrible subjects.

Nightmares carried the signs of frenzy and the evidence of a distempered


body. They not only embodied the most dramatic expression of the
correlation between an impaired body and a deluded mind, but also
appeared to be an extreme case of the doubling of consciousness; one in
which the mind turned against itself. Recurrent nightmares threatened to
degenerate into madness, apoplexy and epilepsy (Bond, 1753: 623, 67); and
when treatments such as gentle purges, digestive medicines, and bleeding in
the foot failed, their cure had to follow the common method used in the
cases of hypochondria (A New and Complete Dictionary, 1754, Vol. 2: Incubus).
In an attempt to soothe its effects on the body, physicians sought
connections between the incidence of the nightmare, the physiological
condition of the sleeping body, and the images that were presented to the
mind during sleep. Stagnation of food in the stomach, difficult digestion and
incorrect posture were largely identified as major causes of the nightmare. In
the Cyclopaedia, Ephraim Chambers observed that nightmares mainly
affected people sleeping on their back with their Stomach loaded with Food
of difficult Digestion (Chambers, 1728, Vol. 1: Ephialtes). In 1753 John
Bond argued in his Essay on the Incubus that such monstrous dreams aimed
at warning the sleeper of the necessity of altering the position of the Body,
and by that means avoid the approaching danger (Bond, 1753: 23). Indeed,
for Bond the nightmare was determined by several concomitant
circumstances attending an horizontal position of the Body in sleep, in
which alone this disease is felt (p. 8). Its primary causes included the
Plethora, or a too great quantity of Blood, a viscidity or tenacity of the
Fluids, and a weakness or inertia of the Solids (p. 46).
Bond opened his Essay with a personal note: being much afflicted with the
Night-mare, he confessed, self-preservation had made him particularly
inquisitive about it (Bond, 1753: Preface). In general, nightmares affected
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 13

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

407

young persons of gross full habits, the robust, the luxurious, the drunken,
and they who sup late, women who are obstructed and Girls of full, lax
habits before the eruption of the Menses (pp. 467). Women were naturally
subjected to the severe insults of this oppressive Disease; for not only did
stagnation of the blood before the menses make them so, but also after they
pass the fruitful seasons of life, and the delicate uterine Tubes,
contracting themselves, become too rigid, and resist the impetus of the
Fluids, so as to prevent the usual discharges; then the Fluids which were
formerly periodically evacuated, are amassd, and collected in the Body,
and occasion a Plethora. Hence, Women, about that time, often grow fat,
heavy, and sickly, and become more subject to the Night-mare. (p. 50)

However harmful, Bond reassured, nightmares could be treated; for when


people are found in a fit of nightmare, the most effectual remedy is to rouse
them as soon as possible, by changing the position of the Body, and applying
some keen stimulus immediately, such as pricking with a pin, speaking loud,
&c. He himself had been so much oppressd by this enemy of rest that, as
he put it,
I would have given ten thousand worlds like this for some Person that
would either pinch, shake, or turn me off my Back; and I have been so
much afraid of its intolerable insults, that I have slept in a chair all night,
rather than give it an opportunity of attacking me in an horizontal
position (p. 71).

But if nightmares could be treated, they could all the more be prevented; for
they generally were nothing but the offspring of excess (Bond, 1753:
Preface).19 Failing to cure them through a discipline of sleeping or to prevent
them through the policing of consumption could be lethal. Bonds examples
are in this sense dramatic: a gentleman, about thirty years old, of a full
sanguineous habit, and a little intemperate was tormented with the Nightmare almost every night for two years and died having been at length seizd
with an Apoplexy, while he had the glas in one Hand and the pipe in the
other. Similarly, when a Gentleman, about forty-five years old, of a
corpulent phlegmatic habit of Body, and an inactive disposition of Mind
who was affected by nightmares and forced to sleep in a chair all night
ventured to sleep in a bed, he was found half dead in the morning,
continued paralytic two years; and after taking the round of Bath and
Bristol, &c. to no purpose, he died an Idiot (pp. 645). Recurrent
nightmares had also affected a corpulent Clergyman, about fifty years old
who was very fond of strong beer and flesh suppers (p. 55). Further cases
included the story of Colonel Townshend, who had died after lying on his
back, and whose case had been discussed by George Cheyne in The English
Malady (1733: 30711). Maintaining that Townshends story could illustrate
his theory of this Disorder, Bond quoted Cheynes own account, presented
the case as a remarkable instance of the dangerous effects which may
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

408

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 14

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

proceed from lying on the Back, and wondered whether it would not have
been possible to rescue Townshend by turning him on his side (Bond, 1753:
3544).
Bonds Essay was based on his Dissertatio medica inauguralis de incubo
(1751), which he had submitted for his doctoral degree at the University of
Edinburgh. A pupil of Alexander Monro, Bond had dedicated his
dissertation to Martin Folkes, President of the Royal Society, hoping that he
might be honoured with Folkes acquaintance when he had the chance to
go to London (Bond, 1752). But when Bond was in the capital in April
1752, things had taken a turn for the worse as Folkes was about to resign
from the presidency of the Royal Society due to ill health. For Bond, this was
likely to mean the failure of his pursuit of patronage. The circumstances of
the writing of the Essay on the Incubus may be read against these events.
While programmatically discrediting Andrew Baxters wild opinions
(Bond, 1753: 5), Bonds Essay fell into line with the genealogy of works
which had dominated the debate that set those who maintained that dreams
were the manifestation of a disordered body against supporters of spiritual
and external intervention. Bonds Essay, moreover, redressed his Latin
Dissertatio in a fashion that could make his new and highly useful subject
(Bond, 1753: Dedication) appealing to a wider reading public: it was in
English, manifested Bonds willingness to convey his sentiments with as
much brevity and perspicuity as possible the more learned will excuse
(Bond, 1753: Preface) and contained many case histories. Through such
cases, as we have seen, Bond fashioned the nightmare as a disease of the
body that was caused by excessive consumption. In order to do so, he
elaborated on some of the commonplaces of the anti-luxury literature that had
circulated in the previous decades, and turned to the rules of health that had
made the fortune of a champion of low regimen such as George Cheyne.20 So,
for instance, Cheyne had characterized the excessive consumption of high
animal Food and strong fermented Liquors as the true efficient and most
general Cause of most atrocious and dangerous Distempers; and had
suggested that vegetable Food, and unfermented Liquors constituted the true
and natural Antidote of such Distempers (Cheyne, 1740: 878). Bond, for
his part, emphasized that there was not a more frequent primary Cause of
the Night-mare than heavy suppers of tough animal food, and large
quantities of soft, thick malt liquors (Bond, 1753: 51). By contrast,
vegetable and flesh meat of easy digestion; thin, subacid, diluent liquors,
taken in moderate quantities; light or no suppers; brisk exercise of all kinds;
high pillows, and sleeping on the Side were the most sovereign Prophylatics, or
preventives against it. In general, temperate living certainly constituted the
most effectual method of preventing this and many other Disorders (p. 80).
Together with Bond, others identified in intemperance a major cause of
the disturbances of sleep and dreams (Cheyne, 1742: 39). In 1768, for
instance, Francis de Valangin devoted his Treatise on Diet to warning
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 15

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

409

Londoners about the unhealthy consequences of the excesses and abuses of


London life. According to de Valangin, disturbed sleep and dreams could be
overcome through the policing of behaviour. Sleep was to be carried out
according to a certain schedule and in a proper place. It had to take place at
night, indoors, and preferably in rooms dedicated to the purpose. It was
imperative that the body lie on the right side and avoid the supine position;
and the quantity of sleep had to be measured according to the Constitution,
Age, Nourishment, and Exercise (de Valangin, 1768: 27390). De Valangins
warnings were formulated within the medical framework that linked
improper sleep with nightmares and ill health. The next section will consider
the bearing this framework had on the evaluation of the contents of dreams.
Dreams interpretation of the body
In the course of the eighteenth century, the interpretation of dreams was reconceptualized alongside ongoing discussions on their nature. Traditionally,
the very practice of dream interpretation lay in the assumption that dreams
were prophetic. The mode of their interpretation, however, had been the
object of endless discussions: were dreams to be read literally or allegorically?
Could anybody decode them or did they require particularly gifted
interpreters? No matter whether written in support of or against Andrew
Baxters text pleading for supernatural intervention, a number of eighteenthcentury writings granted that dreams could be prophetic (Aikins, 1987: 173).
While Baxter (1733: 239) maintained that dreams mostly bore the friendly
warnings of some superior Being, his critics allowed that some, though not
all, dreams could be predictive. In order to establish which dreams may be
considered prophetic, these latter concentrated on the definition of set
criteria of interpretation. In The Gentlemans Magazine, for instance, it was
emphasized that predictive and inspired dreams had to be very rare, to be
rational and consistent and such that they left strong and lively
impressions. Moreover, they had to be easily distinguishable from others,
and not needing inter-pretation. The establishment of clear rules of interpretation was aimed at assuring that such occurrences should not give any
encouragement to a weak and superstitious anxiety and solicitude about
every idle fancy that passes through our heads in sleep, nor induce us to
pay any regard to the ridiculous and dreaming rules given by Artemidorus
and other profound personages, for the interpretation of dreams. (The
Gentlemans Magazine, 1754: 37)

In dissociating prophecy from interpretation, the author of the Enquiry


aimed at discrediting both Baxters view on supernatural inspiration and
Artemidorus rules of dream interpretation.
In eighteenth-century Britain, Artemidorus classic text of dream interpretation, Oneirocritica (second century CE), was widely available and
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

410

1:17 PM

Page 16

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

repeatedly criticized.21 In the Cyclopaedia, for instance, Chambers (1728, Vol.


2: Onirocritic) warned that there is no great regard to be had to those
Greek Books calld Onirocritics. However, not only did Artemidorus work
enjoy considerable popularity, but also the very model of the Oneirocritica,
combining the narrative of a dream and its interpretation, informed almanacs
and chapbooks that continued to circulate well into the eighteenth century.22
In The Compleat Book of Knowledge (1698: 80, 85, 87), for instance, one
could read that To Dream that you Cut Barley-bread, signifies Rejoycing,
To Dream that you have your Hair cut, signifies Loss, and To Dream that
you Kill your Father, is a bad Sign.23 This was the system of decodification
of meaning that critics of Baxter were keen to neutralize. Yet, along with antienthusiast and anti-luxury discussions of the nature of dreams, the very
pattern of interpretation that associated a certain dream with a particular
image was at times re-elaborated in medical terms.
We have seen that, while the inspired believed that dream images were the
evidence of a spiritual presence, anti-enthusiast writers took them to be the
signs of a diseased body. In this setting, dreams ended up being classified
according to the distemper they were supposed to unveil. Early in the
century, John Trenchard had outlined in his Natural History of Superstition a
psycho-physiology of dream interpretation such that
if we lye Hot, we are subject to Angry and Passionate Dreams, if Cold, to
Fearful ones; A Loaded Stomach raises up Apparitions of Devils, Terrors
and Death; Opium gives to many the most agreeable Sensations;
Dreaming upon our Backs inclines us to Lascivious and Wanton
Thoughts. (Trenchard, 1709: 23)

Half a century later, in A Supplement to Mr. Chamberss Cyclopaedia (1753), it


was pointed out that physicians had sometimes enquired into their dreams and,
partly from experience and partly from reason and analogy, had found in
dreams many presages of diseases to come, and many indications of such as are
present, but unperceived, at least not seen in their full extent, to be had from
what the senses suffer in Dreams. Again, it was observed, dreams may always
be looked upon as signs of a more or less distempered state of the body, and the
true condition of that state, may often be better learned from them, than from
any other means (Scott, 1753, Vol. 1: Dreams). Here, dreams were taken to
encode the secrets of physiological occurrences and disclose the circumstances
of bodily pathologies. Thanks to them, distempered bodies were made legible.
On the other hand, when bodies were healthy, they remained silent. Proper
bodily management could keep them so, physicians assured. This would in turn
secure control over ones mind.
Conclusion
In the course of the eighteenth century, dreams remained at the centre of
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 17

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

411

questions of prophecy, imposture and sickness. At the beginning of the century


the pathologization of dreaming was aimed at re-establishing mental and social
order against enthusiast threats of political overturning. By the middle of the
century, the association between dreaming and sickness entered the literature
that sought to define standards of healthy conduct. Re-interpreting the doubling
of consciousness as a bodily symptom rather than as the sign of supernatural
intervention also implied a temporal shift. Chambers observed in the
Cyclopaedia that it was the Opinion of many, that Dreams are mere Chimeras;
bearing, indeed, some Relation to what has passd, but none to what is to come
(Chambers, 1728, Vol. 2: Onirocratia). Dreams referred to the past; they did
not foresee the future. As we have seen, this shift lay at the centre of an
operation of neutralization that rested, among other things, on the redefinition
of the nature of uncontrolled mental images.24 In the literature that medicalized
and moralized bodily conduct, dreams unveiled a diseased body and prescribed
the way to well-being. One of the aims of this literature was to set parameters of
behaviour that could grant social order through the pathologization of the
uncontrolled mind. Together with a medical view on what was proper and
improper bodily management, its prescriptions also brought to the fore a new
definition of what constituted authoritative thinking. The case of dreaming lay,
then, at the centre of the negotiation of notions of credibility that were shaped in
the process of medicalization of conduct that was carried out in the name of
health. Along with the implementation of body policing, the establishment of
criteria of authoritative thinking was aimed at defining what fell in and what fell
out of imposture; whose thoughts and words could be relied upon and whose
could not.25
Acknowledgments
I am grateful to Daniel Beauregard, Lorraine Daston, Patricia Fara, Marina FrascaSpada, Emma Spary and Fernando Vidal for their comments and suggestions.
Special thanks go to Simon Schaffer for his support, suggestions and advice. I am
also particularly indebted to Joseph Berkovitz, who has provided insights into more
versions of this paper than he may have liked to see. I have benefited from
discussions at a workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in
Berlin and at the Tenth International Congress on the Enlightenment in Dublin.
Thanks are also due to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and The
Wellcome Trust for their support during the completion of this paper. As I was
writing this paper, I could not imagine that I would have to express my gratitude for
Roy Porters encouragement and support as a tribute to his memory.

Notes
1. On seventeenth-century religious and radical movements, see the classic Hill, 1975.
2. On views of enthusiasm during the Restoration, see for instance: Heyd 1995a; Rosen
1968; Todd 1995, 96103; Tucker 1972.
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

412

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 18

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

3. For an analysis of the debate on dreams in eighteenth-century France, see Tavera, 2000.
See also Crocker, 1963.
4. Original italics used in quotations, except where otherwise stated.
5. The view that dreams constituted a threat to the self still informed discussions on the
nature of dreams at the end of the eighteenth century; see Kaufmann, 2000.
6. In The British Apollo (17081711) dreams were characterized as a confusd perception of
the mind, The British Apollo (1726), Vol. 1: 128.
7. On the medicalization of madness and the disqualification of the inspired, see for instance
Porter, 1983. On the use of medical arguments in the critique of enthusiasm, see Heyd,
1995a, 1995b.
8. For an analysis of the relationship between madness and enthusiasm, and the
confrontation between a mad-doctor and an inspired patient, see Andrews and Scull,
2001: Chapter 3.
9. According to Trenchard, enthusiasts deceived their audiences by means of Glasses,
Speaking Trumpets, Ventriloquies, Echoes, Phospherus, Magick Lanthorns, &c
(Trenchard, 1709: 21). On the preaching of enthusiasts, see: Garrett, 1987: esp. 1358;
Hawes, 1996.
10. On 20 January 1720, the discussion of enthusiasm and superstition in The Free-Thinker
was praised in The Independent Whig of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon; see
Trenchard and Gordon, 1721: 5.
11. George Lavington, for instance, was sceptical about John Wesleys claim that he could
distinguish between supernatural intervention and the mere empty Dreams of an heated
imagination of his followers; see Lavington, 1751: 867. For an analysis of John Wesleys
understanding of madness, see Laffey, 2001.
12. Lady Eleanor was also known as Lady Eleanor Davies, Lady Eleanor Audeley and Lady
Eleanor Douglas
13. On the gendering of nervous distempers, see Barker-Benfield, 1996: esp. Chapter 1;
Mullan, 1988: 216 ff.
14. On the French Prophets in Scotland, see Schwartz, 1980: esp. 15469.
15. On the history of the editions of the Enquiry, see Aikins, 1987: 171.
16. See, for instance, Beare, 1710: esp. 614.
17. On eighteenth-century responses to Baxter, see Aikins, 1987: 192 n.11.
18. In his Observations, David Hartley (1749, Vol. 1: 389) remarked that the very pleasantness
and unpleasantness of dreams reflected the state of health of ones body. For an analysis
of the physiology of the nightmare in eighteenth-century Britain, see Bound, 2003.
19. On eighteenth-century anxieties about uncontrolled consumption, see Porter, 1993.
20. On Cheynes life and work, see for instance: Guerrini, 2000; Porter, 1991; Rousseau,
1988; Shapin, 2003.
21. Aikins has counted 24 editions of Artemidorus Oneirocritica between 1606 and 1740; see
Aikins, 1987: 171, 192 n.12.
22. Some of these texts were associated with the name of the seventeenth-century astrologer
William Lilly, such as Lillys translation of the Jewish prophet Erra Paters The Book of
Knowledge and Lillys own Groatsworth of Wit for a Penny; or, The Intepretation of Dreams.
On The Book of Knowledge, see Fissell, 1992.
23. Sometimes dream interpretation was gendered. In the Wits Cabinet (1700: 4), for
instance, one could read: for a Woman to dream she lies stark naked in the Embraces of
her Husband, and finds herself disappointed, it signifies she shall hear ill News. But for
the Husband to dream so, signifies Pleasure and Profit. On dream books and their female
readership in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see Perkins, 2004. On womens
dreams in early modern England, see Crawford, 2004.
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 19

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

413

24. On the ongoing policing of inspired dreaming in the nineteenth century, see Hayward,
2004.
25. For an analysis of the interplay between social status, views of credibility, and trustworthy
knowledge in the early modern period, see: Schaffer, 1992; Shapin, 1994.

References
Addison, Joseph et al. (1965) The Spectator, 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Aikins, Janet E. (1987) Accounting for dreams in Clarissa: the clash of probabilities. In
Christopher Fox (ed.), Psychology and Literature in the Eighteenth Century (New York:
AMS Press), 16797.
Andrews, Jonathan and Scull, Andrew (2001) Undertaker of the Mind: John Monro and MadDoctoring in Eighteenth-Century England (Berkeley: University of California Press).
Armstrong, Nancy and Tennenhouse, Leonard (1990) The interior difference: a brief
genealogy of dreams, 16501717. Eighteenth-Century Studies, Special Issue, 23 (4),
45878.
Barker-Benfield, G. J. (1996) The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century
Britain (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
Baxter, Andrew (1733) An Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul; Wherein the Immateriality
of the Soul is evinced from the Principles of Reason and Philosophy (London: James
Bettenham for the author).
Beare, Matthew (1710) The Sensorium: A Philosophical Discourse of the Senses (Exon: printed by
Sam Farley and sold by P. Bishop).
Bond, John (1751) Dissertatio medica inauguralis de incubo (Edinburgh: T. and W.
Ruddimannos).
Bond, John (1752) Letter to M. Folkes, London, April 1752, British Library, MS Add, 4443,
f. 93.
Bond, John (1753) An Essay on the Incubus, or Night-Mare (London: D. Wilson and T.
Durham).
Bound, Fay (2003) A real disease of the body: nightmares and the physiology of fear in
eighteenth-century England. Work in Progress presented at The Wellcome Trust Centre
for the History of Medicine at UCL, 15 January 2003.
Branch, Thomas (1738) Thoughts on Dreaming (London: R. Dodsley and J. Jolliffe).
The British Apollo, 3 vols, 3rd edn (London: Theodore Sanders, 1726).
Buchan, William (1769) Domestic Medicine; or The Family Physician (Edinburgh: Balfour, Auld
& Smellie).
Chambers, Ephraim (1728) Cyclopaedia: or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 2 vols
(London: James and John Knapton et al.).
Cheyne, George (1733) The English Malady: or, a Treatise of Nervous Diseases of all Kinds
(London: G. Strahan and J. Leake).
Cheyne, George (1740) An Essay on Regimen: Together with five Discourses, Medical, Moral, and
Philosophical (London: C. Rivington and J. Leake).
Cheyne, George (1742) The Natural Method of Cureing the Diseases of the Body, and the
Disorders of the Mind Depending on the Body (London: Geo. Strahan and Paul Knapton).
The Compleat Book of Knowledge: Treating of the Wisdom of the Antients [] Compiled by the
Learned Albubetes, Benesaphan, Erra Pater, and other of the Antients (London: printed by W.
Onley and sold by H. Nelme, 1698).
Crawford, Patricia (2004) Womens dreams in early modern England. In Daniel Pick and
Lyndal Roper (eds), Dreams and History: The Interpretations of Dreams from Ancient Greece
to Modern Psychoanalysis (London: Brunner-Routledge), 91103.
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

414

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 20

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

Crocker, Lester G. (1963) LAnalyse des rves au XVIIIe sicle. Studies on Voltaire and the
Eighteenth Century, 23, 271310.
De Valangin, Francis (1768) A Treatise on Diet, or the Management of Human Life (London: J.
and W. Oliver for the author, and sold by G. Pearch).
Diderot, Denis and dAlembert, Jean Le Rond (17511772) Encyclopdie: ou Dictionnaire
raisonn des sciences, des arts et des mtiers, 28 vols (Paris: Briasson et al.).
Fissell, Mary E. (1992) Readers, texts, and contexts: vernacular medical works in early
modern England. In Roy Porter (ed.), The Popularization of Medicine, 16501850
(London: Routledge), 7296.
Garrett, Clarke (1987) Spirit Possession and Popular Religion: From the Camisards to the Shakers
(Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press).
The Gentlemans Magazine, 24, 367 (London: D. Herny & R. Cave, 1754).
Green, Thomas (1755) A Dissertation on Enthusiasm; Shewing the Danger of its late Increase,
and the Great Mischiefs it has occasioned, both in ancient and modern Times (London: printed
and sold by J. Oliver, sold also by T. Payne).
Guerrini, Anita (2000) Obesity and Depression in the Enlightenment: The Life and Times of George
Cheyne (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press).
Hartley, David (1749) Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations, 2 vols
(London: S. Richardson et al.).
Hawes, Clement (1996) Mania and Literary Style: The Rhetoric of Enthusiasm from the Ranters to
Christopher Smart (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Hayes, Tom (1996) Diggers, Ranters, and women prophets: the discourse of madness and the
Cartesian Cogito in seventeenth-century England. Clio, 26 (1), 2950.
Hayward, Rhodri (2004) Policing dreams: history and the moral uses of the unconscious. In
Daniel Pick and Lyndal Roper (eds), Dreams and History: The Interpretations of Dreams
from Ancient Greece to Modern Psychoanalysis (London: Brunner-Routledge), 15977.
Henderson, G. D. (1934) Mystics of the NorthEast (Aberdeen: The III Spalding Club).
Heyd, Michael (1995a) Be Sober and Reasonable: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth
and Early Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden and New York: Brill).
Heyd, Michael (1995b) Medical discourse in religious controversy: the case of the critique of
Enthusiasm on the eve of the Enlightenment. Science in Context, 8(1), 13357 (special
issue, Medicine as a Cultural System, ed. Michael Heyd and Hans-Jrg Rheinberger).
Hill, Christopher (1975) The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English
Revolution [1972] (Harmondsworth: Penguin).
Kaufmann, Doris (2000) Dreams and self-consciousness: mapping the mind in the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In Lorraine Daston, Biographies of Scientific
Objects (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 6785.
Laffey, Paul (2001) John Wesley on insanity. History of Psychiatry, 12 (4), 46779.
[Lavington, George] (1749) The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared (London: J. and
P. Knapton).
Locke, John (1975) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [1694, 2nd edn] (Oxford:
Clarendon Press).
Mack, Phyllis (1992) Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in Seventeenth-Century England
(Berkeley: University of California Press).
Mandeville, Bernard de (1711) A Treatise of the Hypochondriack and Hysterick Passions
(London: Dryden Leach and W. Taylor).
[Mason, William] (1756) Methodism displayed, and Enthusiasm detected; Intended as an Antidote
against, and a Preservative from the delusive Principles and unscriptural Doctrines of a modern
Sett of Seducing Preachers (London: Henry Cooke)
[Mayne, Zachary] (1728) Two Dissertations concerning Sense, and the Imagination. With an Essay
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 21

LUCIA DACOME: TO WHAT PURPOSE DOES IT THINK?

415

on Consciousness (London: J. Tonson).


Mullan, John (1988) Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century
(Oxford: Clarendon Press).
A New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences [] by a Society of Gentlemen, 4 vols
(London: W. Owen, 175455).
Perkins, Maureen (2004) The meaning of dream books. In Daniel Pick and Lyndal Roper
(eds), Dreams and History: The Interpretations of Dreams from Ancient Greece to Modern
Psychoanalysis (London: Brunner-Routledge), 12435.
Philadelphus, G. (1708) The Right Way of Trying Prophets: [] To which is added, An Answer
thereunto, Paragraph by Paragraph (London: Benj. Bragg).
Philips, Ambrose et al. (1733) The Free-Thinker, 3 vols, 2nd edn (London: J. Brindley et al.).
Pick, Daniel and Roper, Lyndal (eds) (2004) Dreams and History: The Interpretations of Dreams
from Ancient Greece to Modern Psychoanalysis (London: Brunner-Routledge).
Porter, Roy (1983) The rage of party: a glorious revolution in English psychiatry? Medical
History, 27 (1), 3550.
Porter, Roy (1991) Introduction. In George Cheyne: The English Malady (1733) (London:
Routledge), ixli.
Porter, Roy (1993) Consumption: disease of the consumer society? In John Brewer and Roy
Porter (eds), Consumption and the World of Goods (London: Routledge), 5881.
Richardson, J. (1755) Thoughts upon Thinking: or, A New Theory of the Human Mind (London:
printed for the author and sold by R. and J. Dodsley).
Rosen, George (1968) Enthusiasm: a dark lanthorn of the spirit. Bulletin of the History of
Medicine, 42 (5), 393421.
Rousseau, George S. (1988) Mysticism and milleniarism: Immortal Dr. Cheyne. In Richard
H. Popkin (ed.), Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought,
16501800, Clark Library Lectures 19811982 (Leiden and New York: Brill), 81126.
Schaffer, Simon (1992) Self evidence. Critical inquiry, 18 (2), 32762.
Schwartz, Hillel (1978) Knaves, Fools, Madmen, and that Subtle Effluvium: A Study of the
Opposition to the French Prophets in England, 1706-1710 (Gainesville: University Presses of
Florida).
Schwartz, Hillel (1980) The French Prophets: The History of a Millenarian Group in EighteenthCentury England (Berkeley: University of California Press).
The Scots Magazine, 25, 323 (Edinburgh: W. Sands, A. Murray and J. Cochran, 1763).
Scott, George Lewis (ed.) (1753) A Supplement to Mr. Chamberss Cyclopaedia: or, Universal
Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 2 vols (London: W. Innys, J. Richardson et. al.).
Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of (1708) A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm, to
my Lord ***** (London: J. Morphew).
Shapin, Steven (1994) A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century
England (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
Shapin, Steven (2003) Trusting George Cheyne: scientific expertise, common sense, and
moral authority in early eighteenth-century dietetic medicine. Bulletin of the History of
Medicine, 77 (2), 26397.
Tavera, Marie (2000) Le rve naturel: physiologie de lonirisme au XVIIIe sicle. Gesnerus, 57
(1/2), 526.
Todd, Dennis (1995) Imagining Monsters: Miscreations of the Self in Eighteenth-Century England
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
[Trenchard, John] (1709) The Natural History of Superstition (London: sold by A. Baldwin).
Trenchard, John and Gordon, Thomas (1721) The Independent Whig (London: J. Peele).
Tucker, Susie I. (1972) Enthusiasm: A Study in Semantic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge
Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009

HPY 15(4) Lucia Dacome

416

11/1/04

1:17 PM

Page 22

HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY 15(4)

University Press).
Wiseman, Sue (1992) Unsilent instruments and the devils cushions: authority in seventeenthcentury womens prophetic discourse. In Isobel Armstrong (ed.), New Feminist Discourses:
Critical Essays on Theories and Texts (London: Routledge), 17696.
Wits Cabinet: A Companion for Gentlemen and Ladies (London: T. Norris, 1700).

Downloaded from http://hpy.sagepub.com by William Stranger on April 21, 2009