Curing Madness?: A Social and Cultural History of Insanity in Colonial North India, 1800-1950s

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Oxford University Press, 2020 - Mental illness - 316 pages
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"Curing Madness? focuses on the institutional and non-institutional histories of madness in colonial north India. 'Madness' and 'cure' are explored as shifting categories which travelled across cultural, medical, national, and regional boundaries, thereby moving beyond asylum-centric histories. It is based on extensive research of archival materials gathered from various repositories in India and abroad. The book focusses on governmental policies, legal processes, everyday patterns of treatment, discipline and resistance behind the walls, and individual case histories. It also brings to fore the non-institutional histories of madness. While few ended up in asylums, most people suffering from insanity were cared for by their families and the local vidyas, ojhas, shamans, and pundits. Western medicine denigrated indigenous healing traditions forcing them to reconceptualize and reinvent themselves. The spread and dissemination of Western medical knowledge led to the reshaping of some of the Ayurvedic concepts of mental illness. Based on an examination of Hindi medical advice literature which primarily includes books, pamphlets, and periodicals, the study locates the history of madness within and beyond the asylum walls"--Publisher's description

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