Mad Tuscans and Their Families: A History of Mental Disorder in Early Modern Italy

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Mad Tuscans and Their Families A History of Mental Disorder in Early Modern Italy. Elizabeth W. Mellyn. pages | 6 x 9 | 8 illus. Cloth | ISBN. Mad Tuscans and Their Families: A History of Mental Disorder in Early Modern Italy [Elizabeth W. Mellyn] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

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Mad Tuscans and Their Families: A History of Mental Disorder in Early Modern Italy

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Latest spotlights Previous Pause Next. Mellyn mined Florentine judicial records of the magistrates over guardians and wards Pupilli and criminal courts. The result is a database of cases most from These cases came from families trying to protect themselves from the folly of insane kin, but also from magistrates concerned with public order and from persons seeking to demonstrate their sanity.

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Mellyn exploits her material skillfully to derive a sense of what Florentines saw as insane behavior, the rich vocabulary they employed, and the largely ad-hoc arrangements that applied to those deemed mentally incapacitated. Chief among mad behaviors was undue prodigality. Increasingly, what she terms patrimonial rationality was the standard of behavior. Or, as Mellyn succinctly puts it, "in the fourteenth century, the spendthrift was a sinful man.

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By the sixteenth century, he was a patrimonial saboteur" p. Given the far greater access to and control of resources by men, it is not surprising then that men figured in more than 80 percent of civil and criminal cases of insanity. The first chapter deals with civil cases and guardianship.

By the end of the seventeenth century, Tuscans, like other Europeans, had come to explain madness in medical terms and the mentally disordered were beginning to move from households to hospitals. In Mad Tuscans and Their Families , Mellyn argues against the commonly held belief that these changes chart the rise of mechanisms of social control by emerging absolutist states. Rather, the story of mental illness is one of false starts, expedients, compromise, and consensus created by a wide range of historical actors.

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Ajax, so long as the mad fit was on him, Himself felt joy at his wretchedness, Though we, his sane companions, grieved indeed. Is not this a redoubling of our grief? Many books have been written about men and women like Ajax and the madness that gripped them; fewer have been written about the companions who watched them suffer, cared for them, and grieved over their condition. This book is not so much about people like Ajax as it is about those companions who watched, cared, and grieved.

It takes as its starting point not the commonly asked question of how a past Western society represented madness, though it is certainly an important part of the investigation. Rather, it asks first and foremost what families, communities, and civic authorities did to address the disorder or, in its worst manifestations, the chaos that it visited on their households or unleashed in their streets.