Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography (Early Modern by K. Hodgkin

By K. Hodgkin

What did it suggest to be mad in seventeenth-century England? This publication makes use of shiny autobiographical debts of psychological disease to discover the methods insanity was once pointed out and skilled from the interior, asking how yes humans got here to be outlined as insane, and what we will be able to examine from the money owed they wrote.

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Do they describe themselves as melancholy or mad, distracted or confused, and what is at stake in their choices? Their preferred terminologies relate to how they think of their own condition, and how they understand and interpret what they have been through; melancholy, distraction, confusion, all invoke different models and different understandings of mental disorder. To understand these differences we need to look at the contemporary terms and concepts available, and how they map on to the symptoms these different writers recount.

42 Fitzherbert herself, however, does not use this comparison, although it was a commonplace at the time. She is now ‘in her perfect sense and memory’; then she was not; but there is no vocabulary that will firmly and acceptably identify the state she was then in, and her anxiety about her past blasphemies is accordingly greater. 32 Madness in Seventeenth-Century Autobiography Memory, autobiography, madness Memory, in Fitzherbert’s phrase, is explicitly opposed to a state of unreason: to be sane is to be in perfect sense and memory, able to apprehend rightly both the outside world and one’s personal past.

Significant others In this chapter, I have been concerned with the broad characteristics of spiritual autobiography, and with the ways in which autobiographical accounts of madness at once form part of that tradition and yet at times depart from it. One feature of spiritual autobiography discussed earlier was its inward orientation. Religious autobiographers pay little attention to external and human relationships; their focus is on the divine, and the relationship of consuming interest is that with God.

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