Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/234

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Parliament any longer to prosecute sorcerers. But this was not until over twenty thousand individuals had perished at the stake simply for having been insane.

Thus ended what we may call the thaumaturgic era of insanity, and now follows the era of repression. There were as yet no hospitals to receive the insane, who were confined in convents or in prisons, according to the violence of their disorder. They were fettered, beaten, suffered to wallow in straw, exhibited to sight-seers, to gratify idle curiosity, or to afford amusement. This treatment was far from being such as medical science requires; but, still, it at least was a great improvement on the stake, and was less calculated than the exorcisms of the previous period to over-excite the patient. A last effort was made by the clergy and the Parliaments in 1713 to recover the powers of which they had been deprived by the ordinance of Louis XIV., but they were unsuccessful; and, consequently, when the Jansenist miracles and diableries became the talk of Paris, the government was content with simple measures of police repression. Finally, in 1768, the Parliaments declared that possession is a disease. Cagliostro was afforded every facility for summoning up the devil and putting him en rapport with the Cardinal Rohan; and Mesmer might now assemble at his famous banquet all the nervous subjects in Paris, without any hindrance on the part of king, clergy, or police.

Science meanwhile was not idle. While justice was growing more lenient toward the insane, the study of the principles to be applied in the treatment of insanity engaged the earnest attention of all the great physicians of Switzerland, England, Holland, Germany, Italy, and France, and the various phenomena of-mental pathology were carefully described by Plater, Willis, Boerhaave, Fleming, Fracassini, Morgagni, Boissier de Sauvages, Lieutard, Lorry, and others. As regards the question of treatment, however, these learned writers nearly all fell into error, because they started out with false premises. In their time the famous theory of humorism held undivided sway, and according to this all disease came from the humors, the blood, lymph, bile, etc.; and a person was diseased to a greater or less degree, according to the higher or lower degree of crudity or of coction in which his humors were found. Hence there were two universal remedies, which were expected to answer every malady: purging and blood-letting. Violent insanity had its seat in the blood; melancholy madness, in the bile; exalted mania, in the spleen. Baglivi, who died in 1707, introduced into medicine the doctrine of solidism, which attributes the cause of disease to the solid parts of the body. Baglivi's writings were translated into French by Pinel, who was himself a reformer in the best sense of that word, and who introduced the mild treatment of the insane in modern times. In 1791 he published his "Medico-philosophical Treatise on Insanity," and 1792 was appointed physician-in-chief of the Bicêtre Asylum.