Mad Tales from the Raj: Colonial Psychiatry in South Asia, 1800-58

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Anthem Press, 2010 - History - 155 pages
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'Mad Tales from the Raj' is an extensively researched study of mental illness within the context of British colonialism in early nineteenth-century India. The author challenges the assumption that western medical psychology was impartial and highlights the extent to which it reflected British colonial ideology and practice. This long overdue reprint makes available in easily accessible form an authoritative assessment of western, institution-based psychiatry during the East India Company's period. It includes a fully revised introduction that locates the work in relation to recent scholarly discourse in the field of history of colonial medicine as well as additional material on the treatment of the 'native insane'. The book provides the first comprehensive account of official attitudes and practices in relation to both Indian and European patients at a time when the dictum of the 'civilising mission' guided colonial social policy towards the colonized, and mental illness among the colonizers was seen to tarnish the prestige of the ruling race. Based on archival sources and reports by medical experts, the book provides a highly readable and illuminating account of contemporary psychiatric treatment and colonial policies. It will be fascinating reading not only to students of colonial history, medical sociology and related disciplines, but to all those with a general interest in life in the colonies.


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Colonizing the Mind
Madness and the Politics of Colonial Rule
The Institutions
The Medical Profession
The Patients
Medical Theories and Practices
Mad Dogs and Englishmen
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About the author (2010)

Waltraud Ernst is Professor in the History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University. She has written widely on various aspects of the history of colonial psychiatry.

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