Andrew Scull

Andrew Scull is a professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego. His books include Museums of Madness and Madhouses, Mad-Doctors and Madmen.


Andrew Scull, 29 September 1988

For nearly two centuries now, the treatment of the mad in Georgian England has been almost uniformly portrayed in the darkest hues. Nineteenth-century lunacy reformers pictured the preceding age as mired in ignorance and cruelty, conjuring up indelible images of monstrous madhouse-keepers beating their patients into submission, chaining them up like wild beasts in foul holding-pens filled with shit, straw and stench; of the callous, jeering crowd – urban sophisticates and country bumpkins alike – thronging to Bedlam in their thousands to view the splendid entertainment offered by the spectacle of the raging and raving mad. Generations of Whiggish historians, celebrating the Victorian asylum as a triumph of science over superstition, the very embodiment of an aroused moral consciousness, sang variations on the same theme, seizing on the passage from the madhouse to the mental hospital as decisive evidence of our progress towards ever greater enlightenment and heaping opprobrium on the benighted denizens of an earlier age.


Andrew Scull, 29 October 1987

Most recent work on the history of psychiatry has tended to focus on the history of institutions, of ideas, and of the psychiatric profession itself, and to ignore those for whom this vast infrastructure has (at least ostensibly) been erected. It is a historiography, as David Ingleby wittily put it, ‘like the histories of colonial wars’: it tells ‘us more about the relations between the imperial powers than about the “third world” of the mental patients themselves’. For this reason, among many others, Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady is to be welcomed, for its primary focus is upon this neglected group – for the most part, on female patients.’

Elimination: Henry Cotton

Peter Barham, 18 August 2005

A professor of surgery in Edinburgh in the 1850s confided that patients entering hospital for surgery were ‘exposed to more chances of death than was the English soldier on the field of...

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Brute Nature

Rosemary Dinnage, 6 March 1997

In 1843, the artist Richard Dadd murdered his father and was put away in Bethlem Hospital, Britain’s oldest lunatic asylum; his portrait of the alienist Sir Alexander Morison stares from...

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