Sex, Religion and the Making of Modern Madness: The Eberbach Asylum and German Society, 1815-1849

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How did the affliction we now know as insanity move from a religious phenomenon to a medical one? How did social class, gender, and ethnicity affect the experience of mental trauma and the way psychiatrists diagnosed and treated patients? In answering these questions, this important volume mines the rich and unusually detailed records of one of Germany's first modern insane asylums, the Eberbach Asylum in the duchy of Nassau. It is a book on the historical relationship between madness and modernity that both builds upon and challenges Michel Foucault's landmark work on this topic, a bold study that gives generous consideration to madness from the patient's perspective while also shedding new light on sexuality, politics, and antisemitism in nineteenth-century Germany. Drawing on the case records of several hundred asylum patients, Sex, Religion, and the Making of Modern Madness reconstructs the encounters of state officials and medical practitioners with peasant madness and deviancy during