Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Moral Insanity

Painting, Painted, Ink, Cartoon, Doodle  I enjoy watching television in the sense that episodes often mention things we've never heard of today and I go check to see if it is a real thing.  The other day, I rewatched an episode of "Call the Midwives" and one of the women they deal with has a sister who was committed to an asylum due to "moral insanity".

The time:  1937
The place: England
The reason:  The young lady was promiscuous.

Apparently, the girl was committed for "moral insanity" but what the sister didn't know was the girl was pregnant when committed.  So when the baby was born, it was adopted out and that is what threw the girl into being not quite right in the head.  The two sisters reconnected and that was good.

Moral insanity was considered a proper psychiatric diagnosis through Europe and the United States during the 1800's and early 1900's.  The diagnosis first appeared in 1835 when a doctor stated there was a mental illness in which the brain was uninjured but manifested itself via habits, feelings, or temper.  In other words, the person was unable to behave in a decent manner.

This particular diagnosis was even used in legal cases such as the one for the man who shot President Garfield.  It was said he was a moral imbecile and suffered from moral insanity.  Just a few years later, one psychiatrist replaced the term moral insanity with psychopathic inferiority but that didn't eliminate the term fully.

Even with this new term, one person in 1939 was glad for the distinction between intellectual mania and moral mania.  Over the intervening years, the psychiatric community got rid of the actual "moral insanity" diagnosis for several reasons including the fact they didn't want criminals to elude justice using this.  Eventually, the standard diagnosis evolved into anti-social, or sociopath.

It appears, this diagnosis was the early one for sociopaths and such, it was also used for locking up people whose behavior was different from societal norms such as the promiscuous young lady or perhaps it was. even used for those whose orientations were not socially accepted.  I found it interesting how they used this diagnosis for both those who were ill and those who were not.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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