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James Frame's The Philosophy of Insanity (1860)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jonathan Andrews



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Our aim in presenting this Classic Text is to foster wider analytical attention to a fascinating commentary on insanity by a former inmate of Glasgow Royal Asylum, Gartnavel, James Frame. Despite limited coverage in existing literature, his text (and other writings) have been surprisingly neglected by modern scholars. Frame’s Philosophy presents a vivid, affecting, often destigmatizing account of the insane and their institutional provision in Scotland. Derived from extensive first-hand experience, Frame’s chronicle eloquently and graphically delineates his own illness and the roles and perspectives of many other actors, from clinicians and managers to patients and relations. It is also valuable as a subjective, but heavily mediated, kaleidoscopic view of old and new theories concerning mental afflictions, offering many insights about the medico-moral ethos and milieu of the mid-Victorian Scottish asylum. Alternating as consolatory and admonitory illness biography, insanity treatise, mental health self-help guide, and asylum reform and promotion manual, it demands scrutiny for both its more progressive views and its more compromised and prejudicial attitudes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Andrews J, Philo C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: History of Psychiatry

Year: 2017

Volume: 28

Issue: 1

Pages: 129-141

Print publication date: 01/03/2017

Online publication date: 03/02/2017

Acceptance date: 01/01/2017

Date deposited: 10/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0957-154X

ISSN (electronic): 1740-2360

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0957154X16671259


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