Before Depression
1660 - 1800

Medical diagnosis and treatment of melancholy in Georgian England

Dr Jonathan Andrews (University of Newcastle)

This paper assesses medical understandings of melancholy in the late Georgian era. Building on the work of scholars such as and Schmidt,Hodgkin and Jackson, but focusing on medical discourse concerning religious melancholy in the later Georgian era, from the 1750s to the 1830s, it seeks to delineate and account for the substantial continuing focus in medical texts on the problem of religious melancholy. Concentrating on the treatises and medical practices of a range of specialist practitioners, in particular John Monro, John Haslam, William Perfect, Joseph Mason Cox, Thomas Arnold and George Man Burrows, this lecture also seeks to trace and explain important divisions of opinion and attitudinal shifts in medical constructions of melancholy and religion, to elucidate to what extent these shifts were articulated in terms of both diagnostics and praxis, and to challenge over-simplified models of secularisation and consensus.

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