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By Horace Mann, Secretary of the Board.
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
JANUARY, 184 5.
Art. I. — 1. A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of
Insanity. By I. Ray, M. D., Superintendent of the
490. 2. Report of the Trial of Abner Rogers, Jr., indicted
for the Murder of Charles Lincoln, Jr., late Warden of the Massachusetts State Prison, before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts holden at Boston, January 30, 1844. By GEORGE TYLER BIGELOW and George Bemis, Esqrs., Counsel for the Defend
ant. Boston : Little and Brown. 8vo. pp. 286. 3. The Plea of Insanity in Criminal Cases. By Forbes
Winslow, Esq., Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, London. Boston : Little and Brown. 1843. 12mo. pp. 111.
The great prevalence of the disease of insanity, and especially its remarkable apparent increase of late years, which li has nowhere been more observable than in this country, have directed much attention towards it, and caused its phenomena, remedies, and consequences to be studied with great zeal and considerable success. We say apparent increase, because it is quite certain, that the progress of science, or a change in the system of classifying diseases, has recently brought very many cases under this category, which were formerly either ranked under a different head, or else not noticed at all; and because, from the multiplication of public VOL. LX. No. 126.
asylums for the treatment of the insane, and from the philanthropic exertions of individuals, many a poor maniac has been rescued from some dark cell in a workhouse or jail, where he raved forgotten except by one or two brutal attendants, and has been brought to swell the number of patients supported at the public charge. Make
Make proper allowance for the recent effect of these circumstances upon the statistics of insanity, and we do not know of any sufficient proof, that the disease is now actually upon the increase, or that it wears a more threatening aspect than in former years. But the facts which have been brought to light respecting its prevalence and its consequences are afflicting enough. The vast ranges of buildings which crown one eminence in Worcester, and another in Charlestown, when we consider that they were erected solely for the accommodation of the insane in the single State of Massachusetts, with less than a million of inbabitants, though they may make us proud of the munificent philanthropy of the builders, affect us with far different feelings when we think of the pitiable fate of the multitude within their walls. In a former article, * we laid before our readers the means of estimating the probable number of the insane in this State, and it is not necessary to revise the gloomy computation. Enough was shown of the extent of the calamity to commend the subject to the earnest attention of every reflecting man and sincere philanthropist.
The facts, appalling as they may seem, may not be enough to support the startling theory which has been advanced, that insanity increases with the progress of civilization, and that the number of its victims in any country will be found in exact proportion to the diffusion of knowledge and the general cultivation of the intellectual powers among its inhabitants. Upon this hypothesis, the disease is like a canker, which appears only in the ripening fruit, while it is unseen in the blos: som and the germ. Fortunately it is only a hypothesis, and one which it is impossible to substantiate by testimony, from the difficulty of ascertaining the extent to which the disease prevails among half-civilized or barbarous nations. Nor is it supported by a priori considerations; for excessive activity of mind - the undue tension of the intellectual powers - is far from being the only cause of the malady. Moral causes are at least
* N. A. Review, Vol. LVI. p. 172.