A treatise of dreams & visions
Thomas Tryon (1634-1703)
1695 AD

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Introduction:

  1. In 1695 AD, Thomas Tryon correctly understood that madness was a spiritual problem, not a bodily illness caused by chemical imbalances as it believed today. He identified a cause of insanity as being, "bitter envious fierce wrathful proud Spirit" Anger, selfishness, pride, narcissism are all triggers for madness. "The truth is, Madness and Phrensie do generally, and for the most part (for some other few particular causes we shall give an account of by and by) arise and proceed from various Passions and extream Inclinations, as Love, Hate, Grief, Covetousness, Despair, and the like, which do . . . break forth, violate and destroy the give inward Senses of the Soul, whence the outward Senses do arise; So that the Soul loseth its distinguishing property, and then the Imaginative property and Soul's Power becomes rampant, unbounded, or as it were without a Guide, and consequently such a Soul is unchained, or set at liberty from the dark Confinements of the grosser Senses and Reason, even as men in Dreams." Tryon had observed that religious people were affected with madness and noted that the prime cause was anger, pride and narcissism: "some who have seemed very Religious, and soberly inclined, as long as they retain'd their Senses and outward Reason, as soon as they become deprived thereof, the bitter envious fierce wrathful proud Spirit appears in its own form, and has its operation without let or hindrance." He rejected drugs, bloodletting and vomits as effective cures of madness. "As to the Cure of Madness in general, the Schools commonly prescribe Blood-letting, and Sleep procuring Medicines, but with how much success daily experience witnesseth, they mistake the Cause, and therefore blindly combat with the Effect" He also criticized the practice at Bedlam of allowing the general public to pay admission to mental hospitals to mock the patients and ridicule them for their own personal entertainment. "I must acknowledge that Gallant Structure of New Bethlam to be one of the Prime Ornaments of the City of London, and a Noble Monument of Charity, so I would with all Humility beg the Honorable and worthy Governours thereof, that they would be pleased to use some Effectual means, for restraining their inferior Officers, from admitting such Swarms of People, of all Ages and Degrees, for only a little paltry Profit to come in there, and with their noise, and vain questions to disturb the poor Souls" (A treatise of dreams & visions, Thomas Tryon, 1695 AD)
  2. "Through much of the history of psychiatry recognition of the importance of psychological factors in mental illness came more from enlightened outsiders than from within the profession. Of these Tryon was an outstanding example. Not content with the old doctrine of the passions he attempted a psychological explanation on a model of psychosis similar to modern theories which use terms such as breakdown of ego function and reality testing. He criticised current physical methods of treatment especially by 'Blood-letting', 'sleepyfying things' and `stupifactive Medicines' the forerunners of the sedatives and tranquillizers of today. Not until Battie (1758) was a professional voice raised against this traditional approach to mental illness. Tryon was also the first who condemned the practice of exposing the insane at Bethlem Hospital to public view, forty years before Defoe denounced it and almost a century before it was actually abolished. The profit to Bethlem from what was a popular London amusement was incidentally not as Tryon thought 'paltry' but brought the respectable yearly revenue of 400, which though not a condonation is at least an explanation for the persistence of this abuse." (300 years of Psychiatry, Richard Hunter, 1963, p233)

 

A treatise of dreams & visions, Thomas Tryon, 1695 AD

Merchant of London, 'student in physick', writer on philosophical, social, religious and medical subjects.

A treatise of dreams & visions . . . To which is added, a dicourse of the causes, natures and cure of phrensie, madness or distraction. By Philotheos Physiologus, [1689 London, Sowle] pp. 249-52, 258-60, 267-8, 288-93

A second edition 1695

SEVERAL OBSERVABLES ABOUT MADNESS

There being an Affinity or Analogy between Dreams and Madness, so that the understanding of one will somewhat illustrate the other; for Madness seems to be a Watching or Waking Dream; I have therefore thought it might not be unfit to subjoyn here certain Considerations touching Phrensie and Distraction, its Causes, Nature and Effects; the rather because the same has very barrenly been handled, as far as I can learn, by those that have undertaken to treat thereof. I shall not insist upon the several sorts reckoned up by Authors . . . As all those, and others, varying in Symptoms, are but several Species of Distraction, so though Galen having constituted four Humors in the Body, & laid it down for a Principle, that from the excess of some, or one of them, all Diseases do proceed, and consequently, was bound to assign these as causes for such Distempers ; yet more narrow Searchers into the Mysteries of Nature, have long since discarded that Doctrine, which seems to consist meerly in Forms and Words, rather than Realities, and do conclude that most Diseases arise, either from Irregular passions of the Mind, or poysonous ferments, occasioned by ill Dyet, or improper Physick in the Body. The truth is, Madness and Phrensie do generally, and for the most part (for some other few particular causes we shall give an account of by and by) arise and proceed from various Passions and extream Inclinations, as Love, Hate, Grief, Covetousness, Despair, and the like, which do . . . break forth, violate and destroy the give inward Senses of the Soul, whence the outward Senses do arise; So that the Soul loseth its distinguishing property, and then the Imaginative property and Soul's Power becomes rampant, unbounded, or as it were without a Guide, and consequently such a Soul is unchained, or set at liberty from the dark Confinements of the grosser Senses and Reason, even as men in Dreams .. .

Now when the five inward senses of the Soul are weakened or destroyed, then they can no longer present before the Judge the Thoughts, Imaginations or Conceptions, but they are all formed into words as fast as they are generated, there being no controul or room for Judgment to censure what are sit, and what are unsit to be coyn'd into Expressions : For this cause Mad People, and innocent Children, do speak forth whatever ariseth in their Phantasies ; but on the contrary, all those that attain to Maturity of Years, and the knowledge of good and evil, their inward Senses of the Soul being unviolated, especially such as adhere to the counsel of the Voice of Wisdom, they let no Conception or Imagination be formed into words before it be presented by the five Counsellors of the Soul, before the Judge, which keeps its Court, and Seat of Justice, in the Center of Life; for if this were not more or less observed, would not every man in the world seem to be Mad, or Distracted ? For what wild, incoherent, absurd, ridiculous notions should we hear from the most serious people, if they should continually Speak, and form into words the various Imaginations, and Conceptions that do continually arise . . . for never hath any man ceased from Imaginations one quarter an hour in his whole Life, or indeed one moment, no, not even when the Body & Sences are asleep .. .

As for the Species of Madness they are as various as men are in their Complexions; for according to what Principle and property, whether good or evil, does govern the Life, in the time of their retaining their Reason and Senses, such a property does more clearly manifest it self when the Reason and Senses are broken to pieces; for this cause, some who have seemed very Religious, and soberly inclined, as long as they retain'd their Senses and outward Reason, as soon as they become deprived thereof, the bitter envious fierce wrathful proud Spirit appears in its own form, and has its operation without let or hindrance.

STUPIFACTIVE MEDICINES

As to the Cure of Madness in general, the Schools commonly prescribe Blood-letting, and Sleep procuring Medicines, but with how much success daily experience witnesseth, they mistake the Cause, and therefore blindly combat with the Effect; and for the latter, let such as intend to cure Distractions by sleepyfying things, take notice that stupifactive Medicines do scarce procure sleep unto mad persons by a four-fold Dose; and when all is done, they increase the Madness; for Madness is nothing but an Erring Sleepifying Power, because every Madman dreameth waking; and therefore Stupefactive Dreams are thereby added unto doting Dreams in waking, and so the mind more disturbed then before. Therefore undoubtedly, the healing Character in a Madman, presupposes a restoring of the hurt reason, and a correction of the Poyson by its Antidote, but not another stupefactive Poyson to be added unto it. And as Stupifying Medicines are of little value, but rather prejudicial, so, much more mischievous is too much Company, and prating, and especially, the Teazing of such distempered People with unnecessary Questions; on which score, as I must acknowledge that Gallant Structure of New Bethlam to be one of the Prime Ornaments of the City of London, and a Noble Monument of Charity, so I would with all Humility beg the Honorable and worthy Governours thereof, that they would be pleased to use some Effectual means, for restraining their inferior Officers, from admitting such Swarms of People, of all Ages and Degrees, for only a little paltry Profit to come in there, and with their noise, and vain questions to disturb the poor Souls; as especially such, as do Resort thither on Holy-dayes, and such spare time, when for several hours (almost all day long) they can never be at any quiet, for those importunate Visitants, whence manifold great inconveniences do arise. For,

First, Tis a very Undecent, Inhumane thing to make, as it were, a Show of those Unhappy Objects of Charity committed to their Care, (by exposing them, and naked too perhapes of either Sexs) to the Idle Curiosity of every vain Boy, petulant Wench, or Drunken Companion, going along from one Apartment to the other, and Crying out; This Woman is in for Love; That Man for Jealousie. He has Over-studied himself, and the Like.

Secondly, This staring Rabble seldom fail of asking more then an hundred impertinent Questions. As, what are you here for ? How Long have you been here, &c. which most times enrages the Distracted person, tho calm and quiet before, and then the poor Creature falls a Raving .. .

Thirdly, As long as such Disturbances are suffered, there is little Hope that any Cure or Medicine should do them good to reduce them to their Senses or right Minds, as we call it, and so the very Principle end of the House is defeated. Certainly the most hopeful means towards their Recovery would be to keep them with a Clean Spare Diet, and as quiet as may be, and to let none come at them but their particular Friends, Grave sober People and such as they have a kindness for, and those to, not alwayes, but only at proper times, whereby discoursing with them in their Lused Intervals Gravely, Soberly, and Discreetly, and humouring them in little things, shall do much more, I am Consident, toward their Cure, then most of the Medicines that are commonly Administred.

 

 

 

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