Popular Science Monthly/Volume 6/March 1875/Sketch of Dr. Henry Maudsley

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THOSE who are familiar with the growing literature of psychological medicine during the last quarter of a century will remember the appearance of various papers remarkable for literary brilliancy and expressive of the most advanced opinion which appeared, nearly twenty years ago, in the English periodicals devoted to this subject, and written by Dr. Henry Maudsley. He was then a very young man, and the promise of his early efforts has been thoroughly redeemed by his subsequent professional career. A voluminous and able writer, and an eminent practitioner, he is now among the foremost men in the branch of medicine to which he has devoted himself. The last quarter of a century has witnessed a great change in the mode of studying mental phenomena. The old metaphysical method, which confined itself mainly to introspection of consciousness, with no more regard to the organic conditions under which mind is manifested than as if such conditions had no existence, has been invaded, and perhaps it is not too much to say, as a method of study, has completely broken down. Not that the introversive study of the phenomena of consciousness has been abandoned, but its sufficiency has been completely discredited; and mental science takes a new departure with the recognition that its organic basis is a fundamental element in its problems. The physicians whose studies begin with the body and traverse the field both of its normal and abnormal states, were forced to consider the subject of mind from the corporeal side, and with reference to the exigencies of practice. Metaphysical speculation was fruitless for their purposes; the mind had to be considered as dependent upon material conditions. The new order of truths thus brought forward has had a profound influence upon recent mental philosophy, and, in this reconstruction and reëxposition of the science, the subject of the present sketch has had a prominent share. His contributions to the literature of the question have not only been valuable acquisitions to the profession, but they have also been well adapted for the diffusion of this kind of knowledge among general readers.

Henry Maudsley was born at Rome, near Settle, in Yorkshire, in 1835, and is, consequently, now but forty years of age. When his early academic studies were completed he chose the profession of a physician as a vocation, and entered upon the study of medicine at University College, London. His career as a medical student was eminently successful, and he obtained the highest honors in the different classes, and graduated M. D. at the University of London in 1856, at twenty-one years of age, having also obtained a scholarship, with the title of "University Medical Scholar." Selecting mental pathology as his medical specialty, he became resident physician and superintendent of the Manchester Royal Lunatic Hospital, a position which he held from 1859 to 1862. Resigning this appointment in 1862, he yielded to the temptations of the metropolis, and entered on a consulting practice in London. The speedy recognition of his professional claims led to his election as Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1869, and the next year he had the honor of an appointment as Gulstonian Lecturer. Dr. Maudsley is Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in University College, London, and Consulting Physician to the West London Hospital. He has been President of the Medico-Psychological Association of Great Britain and Ireland, and is now, as he has been for some years, editor of that able periodical, the Journal of Mental Science. His labors have been appreciated on the Continent, and he has been elected Honorary Member of the Medico-Psychological Society of Paris, and of the Imperial Society of Physicians of Vienna, etc.

Dr. Maudsley's most important work is "The Physiology and Pathology of Mind," a standard treatise for the profession, and a repertory of interesting facts—an able exposition of mental phenomena in their organic relations. This work has passed through several editions, as has also the lesser volume which he subsequently issued, "The Gulstonian Lectures on Body and Mind." His contributions to the Journal of Mental Science have been numerous and important; and his last work, "Responsibility in Mental Disease," written for the "International Scientific Series," is an important monograph which has been widely read, and has contributed to extend the author's reputation.

Dr. Maudsley married the youngest daughter of the late Dr. John Conolly, whose name has been made eminent as the physician who first introduced into England, and carried out successfully, at Hanwell, that great reform, the non-restraint system in the management of lunatics.