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Appeasing the saint in the loch and the physician in the asylum: The historical geography of insanity in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, from the early modern to Victorian eras

Donoho, Emily S. (2012) Appeasing the saint in the loch and the physician in the asylum: The historical geography of insanity in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, from the early modern to Victorian eras. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the historical geography of lunacy in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Using a wide variety of sources, the objective is to construct an expansive picture of the manner in which those labelled as “mad” were treated and managed in this peripheral region of mainland Britain, from the Medieval Period to the late-Victorian period. The scope includes Medieval Celtic manuscripts, nineteenth-century folklore collections, Lunacy Commissioners’ reports, Sheriff Court records, asylum case notes and various other documents besides. These sources open windows on a variety of vocabularies, writings, stories and proclamations through which madness was socially constructed, and then substantively treated, in this remotest of regions. In effect, the thesis sets regional folklore, as a way of accessing the “traditional” worlds of Highland madness from the “bottom-up”, in counterpoint to the likes of Lunacy Commissioners reports, as an instance of the “modernising” of these worlds through medical-institutional means from the “top-down”. The interlocking binaries here are to an extent then scrambled by exploring different dimensions of this interaction between “bottom-up” and “top-down”, charting continuities as well as breaks in attitudes and practices, and thereby constructing a tangled picture of how the Highlands have come to tackle this most challenging of human conditions. The account that follows is thoroughly informed by the historical, social and spatial context of the Highlands, always recognising that madness and its responses must be seen as indelibly placed, contextually shaped and ‘read’ through the region. While the historiography of madness and psychiatry has already considered the Scottish Lowlands experience from various angles, the Highlands have remained all but untouched and their archives unopened. This thesis begins the task of addressing this serious lacuna.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Psychiatry, History, Madness, Scotland, Highlands and Islands, Folklore, Asylums, Foucault
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Prof. Chris
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Dr, Emily Donoho
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3315
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:06
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3315

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