Itineraries and languages of madness : family experience, legal practice and medical knowledge in eighteenth century Tuscany
Title: Itineraries and languages of madness : family experience, legal practice and medical knowledge in eighteenth century Tuscany
Author: LABARCA, Mariana
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Scholarship on the history of early modern madness agrees on the fact that madness was largely a family matter during the period. Not only confinement was used as a last resort, but the range of public provisions to respond to mental afflictions were eminently temporary. Furthermore, although medical practitioners developed increasingly relevant contributions in the field of diagnosis and treatment of mental afflictions, during the eighteenth century madness was still primarily identified, experienced and managed by the families. Building on these arguments, this dissertation is concerned with how early modern understandings of and responses to madness were negotiated between families, medical and legal professionals, authorities and the communities. Intersecting the history of madness and medicine with legal history, the history of the family and gender and the history of emotions, the dissertation examines the spaces in which madness made an appearance in eighteenth-century Tuscany, paying particular attention to the circulation of languages, both across legal and institutional spaces, and between lay society, medical practitioners and magistrates. Through its study of the itineraries of madness, the dissertation suggests that litigants and witnesses adapted their notions of mental affliction and changed their language according to each space of appearance. The core of the discussion is based on interdiction procedures, the civil law inquiries into mental capacity handled by the Magistrato dei Pupilli et Adulti, which are examined against criminal procedures, hospital records, medical consultations, and records of the police. The dissertation argues that the Tuscan legal framework provided open and deliberately vague categories of madness and mental incapacity derived from a long legal tradition which remained mostly unchanged. However, while in terms of legal vocabulary long-term continuities seem to predominate, eighteenth-century records show a shift in the meanings of madness, opening to new social concerns and to new codifications of familial conflict. Initially bound primarily to patrimony and financial mismanagement, the understandings of madness became increasingly open to the emotional and relational dimensions of insanity, suggesting an interesting interplay between lay and medical notions of deviance.
LC Subject Heading: Mental illness -- Treatment -- Tuscany (Italy) -- History -- 18th century; Mental illness -- Social aspects -- Tuscany (Italy) -- History -- 18th century; Insanity (Law) -- Tuscany (Italy) -- History -- 18th century
Defence date: 28 September 2015; Examining Board: Professor Giulia Calvi, EUI and Università di Siena (Supervisor); Professor Bartolomé Yun-Casalilla, EUI and Universodad Pablo de Olavide; Professor Sandra Cavallo, Royal Holloway-University of London; Professor John Henderson, Birkbeck College, London.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess