Out of his mind

Masculinity and mental illness in Victorian Britain

By Amy Milne-Smith

Out of his mind


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5503-0
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2022
  • BIC Category: History of Medicine, History, MEDICAL / Mental Health, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: men, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Society & social sciences / Care of the mentally ill, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
  • Series: Gender in History


Out of His Mind interrogates how Victorians made sense of the madman as both a social reality and a cultural representation. Even at the height of enthusiasm for the curative powers of nineteenth-century psychiatry, to be certified as a lunatic meant a loss of one's freedom and in many ways one's identify. Because men had the most power and authority in Victorian Britain, this also meant they had the most to lose. The madman was often a marginal figure, confined in private homes, hospitals, and asylums. Yet as a cultural phenomenon he loomed large, tapping into broader social anxieties about respectability, masculine self-control, and fears of degeneration. Using a wealth of case notes, press accounts, literature, medical and government reports, this text provides a rich window into public understandings and personal experiences of men's insanity.


Introduction: Madmen in the attic?
1 Men in care: the asylum
2 Men in the community: homecare, doctor's care, and travellers
3 Personal shame: failures of morality and the will
4 Madmen out of the attic: reputation, rage, and liberty
5 Media panics: stories of violence, danger, and men out of control
6 Degeneration and madness: inheritance, neurasthenia, criminals, and GPI


Amy Milne-Smith is an Associate Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University

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