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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

Servants, Obey Your Masters

Servants, Obey Your Masters

Religion and Resistance

(p.82) Chapter Three Servants, Obey Your Masters
The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880

Wendy Gonaver

University of North Carolina Press

One of the key cultural functions of nineteenth-century asylums was reframing mental suffering or “insanity” as medical illness—a secular experience—while also promoting the values of mainstream Protestantism, which, in the South, included the preservation of slavery. This process of cognitive reframing posed particular challenges for enslaved and white patients who adhered to marginal beliefs. Engaging in voodoo, believing oneself “tricked,” and espousing abolitionism were characterized as superstition or fanaticism by administrators who attempted to suppress these ideas and practices. Distinguishing between religion that promoted social conformity and that which fomented dissension was perceived as especially important at a time in which denominational schisms over slavery divided the nation’s churches and permeated political discourse.

Keywords:   abolitionism, insanity, tricked, voodoo, cognitive reframing, Protestantism, Superstition, Fanaticism, marginal beliefs, slavery

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