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Controversy Surrounding Slave Insanity

Title: The Controversy Surrounding Slave Insanity: The Diagnosis, Treatment and Lived Experience of Mentally Ill Slaves in the Antebellum South.
Name(s): Simon, Kristi M. (Kristi Marie), author
Mooney, Katherine Carmines, professor directing thesis
Gabriel, Joseph, committee member
Jones, Maxine Deloris, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Arts and Sciences, degree granting college
Department of History, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Master Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2018
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (137 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Focusing on the period from approximately 1800-1865, this thesis uses a historical conceptualist perspective to examine how psychiatric history intersects with the lived experience of slaves in the antebellum south. Unlike previous works that tell the history of psychiatry through the history of the asylum movement, this study seeks to emphasize how everyday Americans, from white physicians to slaves, conceptualized, discussed, diagnosed, and treated black insanity. In the process, this study illuminates the way the politics, beliefs, and culture of nineteenth-century society impacted the way Americans viewed black insanity. Moreover, the findings presented in this thesis attest to the pivotal role race, gender, and class played in both the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in the antebellum south. Hence, paying careful attention to the politics of the time, this study focuses on the highly contested and flexible process that was conceptualizing, diagnosing, quantifying, and treating black insanity in the antebellum south, and encourages readers to consider how the label “insane” impacted the life of an afflicted slave and their community.
Identifier: 2018_Sp_Simon_fsu_0071N_14534 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester 2018.
Date of Defense: March 23, 2018.
Keywords: antebellum, insanity, mental, physicians, slavery, south
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Katherine C. Mooney, Professor Directing Thesis; Joseph Gabriel, Committee Member; Maxine Jones, Committee Member.
Subject(s): United States -- History
Mental health
Science -- History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU

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Simon, K. M. (K. M. ). (2018). The Controversy Surrounding Slave Insanity: The Diagnosis, Treatment and Lived Experience of Mentally Ill Slaves in the Antebellum South. Retrieved from