Daniel Pick

Minds in Tumult

Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine

By

Thames & Hudson 448pp £28 order from our bookshop

The story of Charles de Vere Beauclerk (1870–1934) is one of many to be found in Andrew Scull’s grand tour through the terrain of madness and its treatment. This son and heir of the tenth duke of St Albans could trace his roots back at least as far as the couplings of Charles II and Nell Gwyn two centuries earlier. That Beauclerk would spend the last thirty years of his life at Ticehurst Asylum was certainly not what his mother and father had anticipated after their son’s education at Eton. The boy’s paranoid fantasies only manifested themselves fully when he was in his early twenties. Among his most upsetting delusions, from his parents’ point of view, was a conviction that they were intent upon poisoning him. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter