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The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880$
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Wendy Gonaver

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648446

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648446.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 November 2021



(p.1) Introduction
The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880

Wendy Gonaver

University of North Carolina Press

The introduction surveys nineteenth-century asylums. Two features are emphasized: 1) the transatlantic appeal of moral treatment and its demise in the United States after the Civil War; and 2) the refusal of most asylums to admit black patients. Advocates of moral treatment eschewed corporal punishment and sought to minimize reliance on mechanical restraint, depending instead on positive psychological inducements to inculcate temperate behavior. Most superintendents worried that the presence of black patients on the wards would denote pauper disgrace to the white public. Because the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia did accept slaves and free black patients, its records offers unique insight into the relationship between race and early psychiatry. These records are more nuanced than the proslavery publications of Samuel Cartwright. Although the inherent violence of slavery made impossible the creation of a therapeutic environment free of coercion, it is argued that the asylum simultaneously promoted patients’ rights and a medical model of suffering that was detrimental to African Americans.

Keywords:   transatlantic, moral treatment, corporal punishment, insanity, race, slaves, free blacks, Samuel Cartwright, psychiatry, patients’ rights

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