William Battie: 1703-1776 AD

The history of Psychiatry: Mad-Doctors of the 1750's

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William Battie
1703-1776 AD

They were quacks in the 18th century and they are still quacks today!

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Introduction:

In 1758 AD, William Battie, Mad Doctor at Bedlam and then St. Lukes asylum, was caustically hostile to Christianity and religion in general, like modern chemical psychiatry today. His A Treatise on Madness, never mentions the words: soul, spirit, God, Jesus. The only time Christianity is brought into the subject is his rather stupid suggestion that the laziness religious leaders causes madness because their "nerves" were out of shape due to lack of use the same way the lazy man has weak heart. It was a clear slap against religion. He was one who actually believed that Christians were generally mentally ill. This attitude prevails today in modern psychiatry. To Battie, all mental illness had a physical cause. Battie's etiology of insanity was borrowed from Nicholas Robinson, who in 1729 AD, wrote a book where he stated bad nerves was a cause of madness. "When once these finest Fibres of the Brain, that immediately support the regular Exercise of our Thoughts, have suffered such a fatal Shock; no Operation of the Mind, that is regular, sedate, and uniform, can ever after be expected". Battie's quacky idea of "weakness of nerves" is seen today in quacky products like "Geritol" which are modern versions of 18th century "nerve tonics" to keep you healthy and ward off insanity! He believed the mind, through joy and anger, could induce madness because it over stimulated the nerves. He believed laziness and gluttony induced madness because it clogged up the nerves: "viscera being slopped in such a manner as to compress the many nervous filaments ... stomach, intestines, and uterus, are frequently the real seats of Madness" It is important to realize that as an agnostic who didn't attend church, Battie rejected the idea that anxiety was a spiritual problem. He believed anxiety was common to all humanity, but only those with weak, bad or out of shape nerve fibers would be afflicted with anxiety. This explains why modern chemical psychiatry is in love with him. William Battie was trained for ten years at Bedlam under John Monro. He left and started St. Luke's mental hospital in England in 1751 AD. Bedlam and St. Luke's were the two largest mad houses in London. They correspond to mainstream psychiatry today. But there were many smaller mad houses that instituted their own concepts that were distinct from both! Although he made some dramatic changes from what was practiced in Bedlam, almost all of his "innovations" were in print and practice up to 100 years earlier! He strongly criticized John Monro's practice at Bedlam of selling tickets to the public so they could entertain themselves by teasing the patients. "the impertinent curiosity of those, who think it pastime to converse with Madmen and to play upon their passions, ought strictly to be forbidden". He viewed some forms of insanity as untreatable in any way: "Original Madness [incurable] therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods: ... bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid antihysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing, and vomits." He believed "consequential madness" was most often cured with "vomits". Battie treated all new patients initially with a kinder, gentler version of the tortures experienced at Bedlam. If that didn't fix them, they were classified as having incurable "original madness", all treatments were stopped and they were put in a separate section of the asylum. Battie notes that after people had been given up as incurable that they suddenly cured themselves. "when given over as incurable, recovered his understanding." Of course this is clear evidence that it was always in the freewill power of the insane to "act normal". When they reached the end of the line, they wanted out of "jail". Battie was every bit a humoralist as Monro, but viewed the curing effect of vomits due to the physical shaking of the nerves and brain matter that resulted from the convulsions of vomiting. (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD)

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  1. William Battie was a Mad Doctor who lived 1703-1776 AD in England.
  2. Like modern chemical psychiatry, Battie was caustically hostile to Christianity and religion in general. His entire A Treatise on Madness, written in 1758 AD, does not mention the words: soul, spirit, God, Jesus. The only time Christianity is brought into the subject is his rather stupid suggestion that the laziness of Roman Catholic and Anglican monks and nuns, was actually a cause of madness because their "nerves" were out of shape due to lack of use the same way the lazy man has weak heart. It was a clear slap against religion. He was one who actually believed that Christians were generally mentally ill. This attitude prevails today in modern psychiatry.
  3. "The idea that insanity is due to "nervous exhaustion," a fatigue of the brain or nervous system, best treated by rest, has a long history." (Coercion as Cure, Thomas Szasz, 2007 AD, p 105)
  4. Battie actually accused the top religious leaders of his day as highly prone to madness: "To the second [idleness, sloth, laziness], perhaps more than to a spirit of lying, may be ascribed the temptations of St. Anthony and the lazy Monks his followers, the ecstasies of sedentary [slow paced life] and chlorotic [iron-deficiency anemia, primarily of young women, characterized by a greenish-yellow discoloration of the skin. Also called greensickness] Nuns, and their frequent conversations with Angelic ministers of grace. Not to mention what now and then happens to the senior Recluses in our Protestant Monasteries at Oxford and Cambridge. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 59)
  5. To Battie, all mental illness had a physical cause. It is important to realize that as an agnostic who didn't attend church, Battie rejected the idea that anxiety was a spiritual problem. He believed anxiety was common to all humanity, but only those with weak, bad or out of shape nerve fibers would be afflicted with anxiety. This explains why modern chemical psychiatry is in love with him.
  6. William Battie was trained for ten years at Bedlam under John Monro. He left and started St. Luke's mental hospital in England in 1751 AD.
  7. Bedlam and St. Luke's were the two largest mad houses in London. They correspond to mainstream psychiatry today. But there were many smaller mad houses that instituted their own concepts that were distinct from both!
  8. Although he made some dramatic changes from what was practiced in Bedlam, almost all of his "innovations" were in print and practice up to 100 years earlier!
  9. The public battle that erupted between John Monro at Bedlam and William Battie at St. Luke's altered the course of main line psychiatry to its current course.
  10. Even though there is a lot of misrepresentation of Battie being a hero of modern psychiatry, he did have vast experience working with a large number of mad people. This experience is important and cause for us to study him and learn some of his insights that are just as valuable today, as they were in 1750 AD.
  11. Battie "treated" the poor though tax dollars at St. Luke's, but the rich with money he siphoned off to great personal profit to "treat" at one of his many personally owned "mad houses".
  12. "Like many of his counterparts at the head of a charity asylum, for instance, the appositely named William Battie, prime mover in the foundation of St. Luke's, owned his own madhouses on the side in Islington and Clerkenwell to which he transferred the more well-to-do private patients who came his way. A self-made man, at his death he left an estate valued at the astonishing figure of between one and two hundred thousand pounds.' Few could rival this sort of success (though the Monro family at Bethlem, who operated Brooke House for more than a century, may well have done even better)." But the entrepreneurially inclined could obviously make a hand-some living from speculating in this variety of human misery." (The most solitary of afflictions: madness and society in Britain 1700-1900, Andrew Scull, 1993 AD, p 19)

A. Amazing observation by William Battie: Spontaneous cures!

  1. "For Madness, like several other animal distempers, oftentimes ceases spontaneously, that is without our being able to assign a sufficient reason; and many a Lunatic, who by the repetition of vomits and other convulsive stimuli would have been strained into downright Idiotism, has when given over as incurable recovered his understanding." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 98)
  2. Battie discusses his own personal observations of what he both at St. Luke's under his own direction.
  3. Battie states that you cannot tell if a man suffers from "original" or "consequential" madness until after you treat him. If he gets worse, he is suffering from "untreatable original madness" and you should stop all treatments.
  4. Battie notes that a lunatic enters the mad house and begins harsh treatments including vomits that his condition worsens. Battie would then, according to his own formal procedures, determine that the man is suffering from "original madness" and put him in the section of the hospital where they were not treated.
  5. Once all treatments stopped, the patient made a full recovery!
  6. We find this very interesting because this really happened. But why? Aversion therapy!
  7. We believe that this is proof that mental illness is not organic. The person, having just endured sickness, torture and nausea, realizes that they have reached the end of the line. They either get better, or they stay locked up for the rest of their life in prison! The chose to get better and find the power to control their own personal actions and cure themselves of madness! The treatments of the 1750's worked as a crude and harsh form of aversion therapy!
  8. John Monro also understood the value of Aversion therapy when he needed to conquer the obstinacy of the patients, with increasingly harsh vomits. "Bleeding and purging are both requisite in the cure of madness; but rough catharticks are no otherwise particularly necessary in this distemper than on account of the phlegm, and to conquer the obstinacy of the patients, who will sometimes frustrate the operation of more gentle medicines." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)

B. The war: William Battie vs. John Monro

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William Battie

  1. The public battle between Battie and Monro was instigated by Battie when he published his "A Treatise on Madness" in 1758 AD.
  2. "We have therefore, as Men, the pleasure to find that Madness is, contrary to the opinion of some unthinking persons, as manageable as many other distempers, which are equally dreadful and obstinate, and yet are not looked upon as incurable: and that such unhappy objects ought by no means to be abandoned, much less shut up in loathsome prisons as criminals or nuisances to the society." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)
  3. Battie criticized Monro for continuing to treat those in Bedlam with "original/untreatable" madness: "We are likewise, as Physicians, taught a very useful lesson, viz. That, altho' Madness is frequently taken for one species of disorder, nevertheless, when thoroughly examined, it discovers as much variety with respect to its causes and circumstances as any distemper whatever. [Original/incurable] Madness therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods, v.g. [latin: verbi gratia: for example] bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid antihysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing, and vomits." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)
  4. Battie criticized Monro for gladiator sport of letting the public inside the mad house for the price of admission for their amusement like going to the zoo: "The Regimen and Cure of Madness. ... requires the patient's being removed from all objects that act forcibly upon the nerves, and excite too lively a perception of things ... The visits therefore of affecting friends as well as enemies, and the impertinent curiosity of those, who think it pastime to converse with Madmen and to play upon their passions, ought strictly to be forbidden." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 68)
  5. John Monro responded to Battie the same year: Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD: "My own inclination would never have led me to appear in print; but it was thought necessary for me, in my situation, to say something in answer to the undeserved censures, which Dr. Battle has thrown upon my predecessors." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  6. Monro claims that the causes of madness will always be unknown: "Madness is a distemper of such a nature, that very little of real use can be said concerning it; the immediate causes will ever disappoint our search, and the cure of that disorder depends on management as much as medicine." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  7. Modern psychiatric historians failed to realize that John Monro was deliberately misrepresenting Battie. Battie did not reject vomits or "all general methods" but only in cases of "original madness" which he believed were as incurable as they were untreatable. "Notwithstanding we are told in this treatise, that madness rejects all general methods, I will venture to say, that the most adequate and constant cure of it is by evacuation; which can alone be determined by the constitution of the patient and the judgment of the physician. The evacuation by vomiting is infinitely preferable to any other, if repeated experience is to be depended on" (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  8. Monro takes issue with Batties "shocking the nerves" theory for why vomits cures the mad. Monro rejects this and quotes the age old humoral concepts of removing phlegm: "I should be very sorry to find any one frightened from the use of such an efficacious remedy by its being called a shocking operation, the consequence of a morbid convulsion. I never saw or heard of the bad effect of vomits, in my practice; not can I suppose any mischief to happen, but from their being injudiciously administered; or when they are given too strong, or the person who orders them is too much afraid of the lancet. The prodigious quantity of phlegm, with which those abound who are troubled with this complaint, is not to be got the better of but by repeated vomits; and we very often find, that purges have not their right effect, or do not operate to so good purpose, until the phlegm is broken and attenuated by frequent emeticks." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)

C. William Battie: Modern Psychiatry's hero!

Modern "Hero" Claim by psychiatrists

Historical Truth

Battie was the first teacher of psychiatry in history.

While John Monro kept treatment as a secret family recipe, Battie took the opposite approach. There were others before Battie in various obscure mad houses who had open information policies and encouraged training and research. Battie gets the credit because of his connection with one St. Luke's, one of the largest mad houses in the world.

Battie was the first to view madness in two categories: original and consequential.

Battie invented these two terms, but the concept beneath them were in both print and practice 100 years earlier. See the work of a church preacher named Timothy Rogers.

Battie was first to dispense the many categories (melancholy, spleen, vapours) into just two.

False, Battie actually had over 12 different categories of mental illness.

Battie did not practice vomits, cold baths, bloodletting, opium etc. on those who were mad, as John Monro commonly did.

False, his book recommends all these methods in some of his own 12 categories of madness. However, in a few sub categories of "original madness" he rejects all treatments as worthless and incurable!

Battie rejected vomits, cold baths, bloodletting because he rose above the humoral medicine of his day!

False, he was a humoralistic doctor. He stated that vomits cured madness not because it removed phlegm from the body, but because it physically shook up the nerve endings. He also stated that vomits and other discomforts created a distraction from their "anxiety". (so confinement and torture)

Battie did not practice vomits like John Monro.

Both mad doctors practiced "vomits" to cure mental illness, but one to remove phlegm and the other to shake of the nerve fiberes. (Battie)!

Battie correctly opposed purging (vomits, diarrhea and bloodletting) as treatment of the insane.

Read closer! This was only in confirmed cases of original madness. Battie clearly prescribed purging (vomits, diarrhea and bloodletting) to some cases of madness. However once a person did not respond to treatment, he would proclaim them suffering from "original madness". Battie did not believe anything could cure those with "original madness".

  1. Modern psychiatry parades William Battie as a pioneer to modern psychiatry. Modern psychiatry dishonestly reports the past by making Battie into some kind of pioneer which he was not.
  2. Yes he divided up mental illnesses into `original' and `consequential' ("organic" and "environmental") causes. In fact, many before him had this same view, they just didn't call these two classes of mental illnesses `original' and `consequential'. So while he came up with brand new "terms" nobody had ever heard of, as John Monro complains, the concepts beneath were in print and practice up to 100 years earlier!
  3. Example of typical "hero statements" by modern psychiatry: "Battie's Treatise was a turning point in the medical approach to mental illness. His division of madness into `original' and `consequential' illnesses are forerunners to the `organic' and `functional' terms used to this day, and his promotion of therapeutic optimism through engagement with the patient, rather than restraint and other physical affronts, prefigured the `moral therapy' of the Luke's at the York Retreat later in the 18th century." (William Battie's Treatise on Madness (1758) and John Monro's Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise (1758) - 250 years ago, Andrew Morris, British Journal of Psychiatry, 2008)
  4. In fact William Battie pioneered very little that had not been done by others before him. While it is true that the power struggle that erupted between Monro and Battie was exemplified in two different approaches to the treatment of madness, it had all been done and proposed long before! While Monro coveted the treatment of madness as a "secret family recipe" that discouraged all research or teaching of outsiders, Battie turned his St Luke's Hospital into a kind of teachers college and a place doctors could learn and "intern" in the field of mental illness. Whereas Monro would make money by allowing the public to pay an admission to enter Bedlam and mock the inmates like animals at a zoo, Battie discouraged this by saying it would make them even more mad! Instead of the practice at Bedlam of outsiders mocking, ridicule and provoking of the inmates and harsh treatment by the "keepers", Battie barred all outsiders and commanded the keepers to treat the inmates with kindness. But this was all proposed by a preacher of a local church named Timothy Rogers in 1691 AD, who said, "You must be so kind to your Friends under this Disease, as to believe what they say".
  5. Example misleading "hero statements" by modern psychiatry: "He [William Battie, 1758] was among the first to try to dispense with the multiplication of labels for madness- melancholy, spleen, vapours, and so on-and preferred two simple categories: 'Original Madness', where there was some physical defect from birth, and which was generally incurable, and 'Consequential Madness', which followed upon some injury or external cause, and which would usually respond to treatment. (Patterns of Madness in the Eighteenth Century, A Reader, Allan Ingram, 1998 AD, p112)
  6. In fact, Battie had about 12 different categories of mental illness. Some he believed were exclusively "original" or "consequential" while others could be either "original" or "consequential".
  7. Example misleading "hero statements" by modern psychiatry: "Among his [Battie] tenets, many of them "firsts," are his (correct) antipathy [opposition] for violent purging as treatment of the insane." ("A Treatise on Madness", William Battie, Introduction by James Brussel, p v). Truth: THIS WAS ONLY IN CONFIRMED CASES OF ORIGINAL MADNESS. Battie clearly prescribed purging (vomits, diarrhea and bloodletting) to some cases of madness. However once a person did not respond to treatment, he would proclaim them suffering from "original madness". Battie did not believe anything could cure those with "original madness".
  8. "He [William Battie] also took in pupils, including Sir George Baker, who became physician to George III, thereby stimulating the development of a professional line of psychiatric practice which Bethlem, with its father-to-son tradition, had always deliberately eschewed." (Patterns of Madness in the Eighteenth Century, A Reader, Allan Ingram, 1998 AD, p112)
  9. "The delight of medical historians is to unearth "firsts" ... [Battie's] his medical accomplishments, and this book form a remarkable series of firsts. ... To begin with, Battle was the first teacher of psychiatry in England; some authorities go so far as to say "in the world."" ("A Treatise on Madness", William Battie, Introduction by James Brussel, 1968, p v)

D. Psychiatry: No progress in 250 years!

Bedlam, Monro and Battie

Psychiatry today

Monro claimed he had no idea what caused madness even though preachers like Timothy Rogers blamed madness on sin.

Psychiatry really has no idea what causes mental illness. They have nothing objective, definitive they can point to from science.

Battie firmly claimed the cause of madness was bad nerve fibers, but was 100% wrong.

Psychiatry firmly claims that madness is caused by chemical imbalances and bad DNA, but are as wrong at Battie, since they have no proof.

Monro and Battie prescribed vomits, bloodletting and opium to cure mental illness. This was quack science.

Psychiatry prescribes Neuroleptic drugs to cure madness. Drugs do not cure, only sedate. They are no better than opium in curing madness, but they control the madman better.

Monro and Battie believed that the insane should be imprisoned and chained in an asylum.

Neuroleptic drugs are how psychiatry imprisons and chains today.

  1. Psychiatry has made no progress in 250 years since William Battie. It was the preachers who lived, wrote and practiced with the insane that Battie plagiarized from.
  2. Psychiatry has made no advances since the mad doctors and their asylums of the 1750's. The science of psychiatry today, is in fact identical to the mad doctors of Bedlam in 1750 AD. Today's psychiatrists have no more idea about the etiology or cure of mental illness then their mad doctor colleagues three centuries before them. Neither have any idea what causes mental illness and neither have any cures to offer. In Bedlam they used shackles and jail cells to physically restrain people. Today the shackles and bars have been replaced with drugs. Instead of people being restrained in a single place, drugs are the modern chemical restrains.
  3. Mad doctors in 1758 like William Battie, confidently claimed they knew the cause of mental illness was brain and nerve damage. He was totally wrong! Yet this same etiology of mental illness being "broken brains" is still used today by psychiatrists. Both mad doctors and psychiatrists boldly claim to know the cause of mental illness and the public blindly believes them! The historic etiology of nerve damage has been replaced with chemical imbalances but both are mythical, theoretical and unobserved in science. The fact is that psychiatry has never understood what causes mental illness or how to cure it!
  4. Vomiting was the treatment of choice! In 1758, a mad doctor named John Monro induced vomiting on a daily basis to remove "phlegm" and restore "humoral balance", even though he plainly admitted he had no idea what really caused insanity! This was the science of the day. But at the same time, another mad doctor named William Battie used most of these same methods. He tells us that for him to reject vomits as a cure, would be considered heresy. Indeed, of all the treatments of the 1750's, vomits was viewed as the cure of choice! Battie believes that mental illness is caused by a clogging of brain and nerve matter and he tells us that the reason vomits cures, is entirely in the physical convulsions associated with vomiting. The violent convulsive action of throwing up, with the increase of blood pressure to the brain and the stress to the eyes and nervous system, is like using carburetor cleaner in your engine to clean out the gunk and loosen everything up! This bizarre quackery was universally believed by society and practiced by all doctors until 1858 AD!
  5. Monro claimed he had no idea what caused mental illness, but believed that removing "bad humoral body fluids" would help. On the contrary, Battie claimed clogged nerves was the definite cause caused mental illness and believed the physical convulsions associated with vomiting, would "shake up the nerves" and restore sanity!
  6. So these two mad doctors practiced "vomits" to cure mental illness, but one to remove humoral phlegm and the other to physically shake of the nerves!
  7. Like modern psychiatrists, Monro and Battie were quacks!
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E. Church preachers are the true heroes!

  1. So modern psychiatry wants to award Battie with ushering us into the modern era of research and development and treatment of madness, when this is not merited! Sure the two largest and most prominent mad houses of the day (Bedlam and St. Luke's) had two opposite approaches, but Battie merely plagiarized many of the ideas he implemented at St. Luke's from church ministers like Timothy Rogers, before him!
  2. Battie actually accused the top religious leaders of his day as highly prone to madness: "To the second [idleness, sloth, laziness], perhaps more than to a spirit of lying, may be ascribed the temptations of St. Anthony and the lazy Monks his followers, the ecstasies of sedentary [slow paced life] and chlorotic [iron-deficiency anemia, primarily of young women, characterized by a greenish-yellow discoloration of the skin. Also called greensickness] Nuns, and their frequent conversations with Angelic ministers of grace. Not to mention what now and then happens to the senior Recluses in our Protestant Monasteries at Oxford and Cambridge. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 59)
  3. What is worse, is that Battie's organic cause of mental illness was pure quackery! Bad nerve fibers no more cause insanity than melancholy blood! Yet modern chemical psychiatry believes all mental illness is caused by chemical imbalances and bad DNA 100% of the time.
  4. Chemical psychiatry should take note that even Battie realized that mental illness were triggered by social and life circumstances, sin and guilt and not the body, in some cases. (Battie viewed that bad nerves pre-disposed people to madness.)
  5. So instead of giving the credit to a preacher of a church, psychiatry invents their false hero in William Battie.
  6. In a bizarre twist, chemical psychiatry praises Battie for what he had wrong (somatic origin of insanity: original madness) and ignores Battie for what he had right (etiology of circumstance: consequential madness.) Welcome to modern psychiatry!

F. William Battie's classifications of madness:

John Monro gave credit for the terms, original and consequential to Battie, although the underlying concepts were in print and practices long before: "Of what use it may hereafter prove to have thus divided madness into original and consequential is not my business to enquire at present. The first of these is entirely the doctor's invention it never having been mentioned by any writer, or observed by any physician." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)

Classification

Definition

Cure

Original

Born with bad nerves

incurable

Consequential

nerve damage after birth

curable

Deluded Imagination

"perception of objects not really existing"

Start with vomits, cold baths, opium, blisters, isolation, dieting and exercise. If there is no improvement, they are suffering from "original madness". Then stop all treatment because they are incurable.

Anxiety, Idiotism, Folly

"Sensation too greatly excited by real objects"

Insensibility (melancholy)

"Sensation not sufficiently excited by real objects"

Lunatic

"the man who is so mistaken, and who cannot be set right"

  1. While Battie rejected the classifications of his day: "Lunacy, Spleen, Melancholy, Hurry of the Spirits", he in fact had 12 distinct classifications of his own that he invented. "The names alone usually given to this disorder and its several Species, viz. Lunacy, Spleen, Melancholy, Hurry of the Spirits, etc. may convince any one of the truth of this assertion, without having recourse to the authors who have professedly treated on this subject." A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD. p 4)
  2. "Deluded Imagination": We praise Battie for his simplistic view of madness which he defined as delusion. If someone had a delusional view of reality, saw stuff nobody else saw or believed they had skills or talents they did not, they were insane according to Battie. "And this by all mankind as well as the Physician: no one ever doubting whether the perception of objects not really existing or not really corresponding to the senses be a certain sign of Madness. Therefore deluded imagination, which is not only an indisputable but an essential character of Madness ... Madness, or false perception, being then a preternatural state or disorder of Sensation" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 8)
  3. Lunatic: "the man who is so mistaken, and who cannot be set right either upon his own recollection or the information of those about him, is in the apprehension of all sober persons a Lunatic." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 44)
  4. Anxiety and Insensibility: "The Causes and Effects of Anxiety and Insensibility, two species of Sensation disordered tho' not delusive. HAVING contemplated the seat causes and effects of natural and true Sensation ;- before we proceed to consider delusive Sensation, the only subject of this enquiry, it may be not improper to take some notice of those two other disorders of the same quality, which were excluded from our definition of Madness, viz. preternatural Anxiety or Sensation too greatly excited by real objects, and its contrary [ie. the opposite of anxiety] Insensibility or Sensation not sufficiently excited by real objects, tho' acing with their usual force and tho' capable of engaging the attention of all other healthy animals of the same Species. (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 34)

G. Battie on Anxiety:

  1. Battie viewed that people who were suffering from "Anxiety" were pre-disposed to having "weakness of nerves" which explains why some get it and others do not, given the same life difficulties.
  2. He lists "black November days, easterly winds, heat, cold, real misery, tempests of love, hatred, disease" as triggers for anxiety. But since everyone experiences these, only those with weak nerves "went mad" and needed treatment.
  3. "Anxiety is no more essentially annexed to Madness, so as to make part of our complex idea, than Fever, Head-ache, Gout, or Leprosy. Witness the many instances of happy Mad-men" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 9)
  4. "Whatever may be the cause of Anxiety, it chiefly discovers itself by that agonizing impatience observable in some men of black November days, of easterly winds, of heat, cold, damps, etc. Which real misery of theirs is sometimes derided by duller mortals as whimsical affectation. And of the same nature are the perpetual tempests of love, hatred, and other turbulent passions provoked by nothing or at most by very trifles. In which state of habitual diseases many drag on their wretched lives ; whilst others, unequal to evils of which they see no remedy but death, rashly resolve to end them at any rate. Which very frequent case of suicide, though generally ascribed to Lunacy by the verdict of a good-natured Jury, except where the deceased hath not left assets, are no more entitled to the benefit of passing for pardonable acts of madness, than he who deliberately has killed the man he hated deserves to be acquitted as not knowing what he did." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 36)
  5. "But thus much is clear in reason that any distraction, which is sufficient to disunite or break in pieces the medullary substance, must be sufficient to make it unfit for its function ; and it is as undeniable in fact that Anxiety is frequently either attended with such spasmodic disorders or occasioned by such external injuries as must necessarily distract the nerves thereby affected. ... Not that Insensibility is owing to no other cause except Anxiety. For it is at least as often occasioned by the internal and unknown constitution of the nervous or medullary substance itself, which was either formed imperfect at first [birth defect] or hath since degenerated [disease]." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 38)

H. Battie on Insensibility, Idiotism, Folly:

  1. "Insensibility, Idiotism, Folly, or whatever name it is usually known by, is, as hath been observed, almost always beyond the power of rational or Specific relief. Nevertheless, that nothing may be left untried, it seems advisable to make general evacuations, and to contrive partial but constant discharges of the fluids from the head and neck by perpetual blisters, setons [thread, gauze, or other material passed through subcutaneous tissue or a cyst to create a sinus or fistula], and issues. It may likewise be of some service, if nothing contraindicates, to shake the whole solid frame by vomits, cathartics, errhines, and all sorts of tolerable irritation. To which may be added, but not without great caution, the subtle and penetrating particles contained in mineral waters drank at the fountain-head, and the concussive force of the cold-bath. or sea, water." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)
  2. "But if Insensibility is constitutional, or owing to the firm and healthy structure of those solid membranes which sheath the nervous matter, such natural defect or impediment is incurable by art. However this slate of stupidity may, at lead by those who are endued with too lively a sensation, be deemed a kind of negative happiness, and rather to be envied than lamented." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)
  3. "And, altho' blisters, caustics, and sharp purges quickned with white Hellebore [herb flower: purgative], and indeed all painful applications, not only evacuate and thereby relieve delirious pressure, but also rouse and exercise the body, and seem more peculiarly adapted to Insensibility when it is a symptom or consequence of Madness; nevertheless these and all pungent substances are to be tried with great caution, or rather are not to be tried at all in fits of fury." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 94)

I. Battie's 12 causes "etiology" of madness

Whereas John Monro claimed that the causes of madness will always be unknown, Battie gives 12 causes!: "Madness is a distemper of such a nature, that very little of real use can be said concerning it; the immediate causes will ever disappoint our search, and the cure of that disorder depends on management as much as medicine." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)

"Pressure of the medullary matter contained in the brain and nerves, amongst all the known causes of Madness the nearest to such its delirious effect ... In the next place therefore we are to turn our thoughts to those other external accidents, which by occasioning intermediate pressure are the remoter causes of Consequential Madness. (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 78)

Now the several remoter causes before enumerated, were

Classification of Madness

Treatments and Cure

1. Internal exostoses of the cranium [formation of new bone on the surface of the skull]

Internal [1] exostoses and [2] induration of the Dura Mater cannot be prevented, nor does either case admit of any particular method of relief.

2. Induration of the Dura Mater [hardening of brain matter]

3. Fracture or intropression of the skull and concussion of the head ; [blow to the skull]

[3] Concussion may itself indeed be sometimes prevented, but its ill effects can never be prevented or removed by any intention except that of Depletion and Revulsion recommended under the first article of cure.

4. Insolation; [measure of solar radiation energy received, exposure to sunlight]

[wear a hat] the head may be secure by a proper integument ; for which purpose a cap of thick paper has been successfully recommended.

5. One Species of spasm, or muscular constriction, sudden and impetuous but sooner quieted

admits of no method of cure suggested by rational intention

6. Material objets external to the body, viz. poisons, medicines, and vinous spirits, or from [substance abuse]

[legislative prohibition] For which reason it deserves the serious consideration of our governors, how far it is their duty by a total prohibition of the cause to prevent those frequent effects of temporary but real Lunacy, for which many wretches are executed, who in reality are guilty of debauchery alone

7. Tumultuous passions, viz. joy and anger; [it overworks the nerves]

[opium] we must have recourse to the Specific, that is to the unaccountably narcotic virtues of the Poppy

8. Another Species of spasm or muscular constriction more gradual and gentle in its attack, but frequently increasing, and almost always obstinate in its duration ; which arises from

vesicatories, vomits, rough cathartics, errhines, and the most poinant among the medicines called nervous, may in this particular case of spasm become even antispasmodic. ... experience has shown that, although many parts of the body may be convulsed together, one Species of spasm however occasioned seldom fails to put an end to that other which before subsisted.

9. Unwearied attention of the mind to one object, or from the quieter passions of love, grief, or despair

Therefore vesicatories, caustics, vomits, rough cathartics, and errhines, may be and in fact often are as serviceable in this case of fixed nervous Sensation as in obstinate muscular constriction, inasmuch as they all relieve and divert the mind from its delirious attention, or from the bewitching passions of love, grief; and despair.

10. Preternatural laxity of the membranes or vessels contiguous to the nerves;

Of this nature is iron, vitriol, and mineral waters impregnated therewith : but above all, when nothing contraindicates, the bathing in cold or rather sea water.

11. Gluttony

[lock them up and force them on a diet] properly confined. For the diet of the glutton in such case is absolutely in the Physician's power.

12. Idleness [nerves out of shape due to lack of use like building muscles]

bodily exercise ... this state of inactivity may be artificially broke through by vomits, rough cathartics, errhines, or any other irritating medicines : which in this case therefore answer more than one intention, and not only discharge or dislodge the delirious load of stagnating fluids, but also by their convulsive influence upon the muscles of the abdomen and indeed upon every animal fibre of the agitated body crowd as it were a great deal of exercise into a small portion of time, and that without the consent of the patient, or even the trouble of contradicting his lazy inclinations

(A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 78-87)

J. Causes of madness: "Weak Nerves"

  1. In 1729 AD, Nicholas Robinson wrote a book where he stated bad nerves was a cause of madness. This was about 30 year before Battie came along: "WHEN once these finest Fibres of the Brain, that immediately support the regular Exercise of our Thoughts, have suffered such a fatal Shock; no Operation of the Mind, that is regular, sedate, and uniform, can ever after be expected; but all his Actions will be express'd by sudden Fits and Catches; and shew themselves in all the Diversity of Characters, according to the prevailing Passions that struck the Impulse. Thus the gay and merry, the fond and loving, the angry, revengeful, or Scholastick Characters, succeed each other, by sudden Starts and Sallies, according to the natural Passion he was subject to, before the Invasion of the Disease." (A New System of the Spleen, Nicholas Robinson, 1729 AD)
  2. Battie viewed the cause of all madness as bad "weak" nerve fibers. In modern language, Battie would describe the nervous system as a creature with its own mind that would interfere with normal thoughts. This was entirely false. If Battie had a true understanding of neurology, he would likely suggest a kind of nerve damage where the electrical impulses were short circuiting and triggering madness. This too would be false.
  3. "From whence we may collect that Madness with respect to its cause is distinguishable into two species. The first is solely owing to an internal disorder of the nervous substance: the second is likewise owing to the same nervous substance being indeed in like manner disordered, but disordered ab extra [from outside]; and therefore is chiefly to be attributed to some remote and accidental cause. The first species, until a better name can be found, may be called Original, the second may be called Consequential Madness." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 44)
  4. Battie takes issue with the way "weak nerves" is viewed, but then defines it his own way and adopts the term: "And from hence we are enabled to annex a true and intelligible meaning to that expression before taken notice of, viz. weakness of nerves. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 36)
  5. The science of the day viewed the brain as an organ that secreted "nervous fluid". He rejected this: "Now, as the secretion of such a nervous fluid and consequently its very existence depends entirely upon the analogy that is supposed to lie between the brain and every glandular substance, in case the brain is very unlike a gland in any material circumstance, this whole machinery is immediately destroyed. ... This observation alone would be sufficient to destroy the very foundation of a nervous fluid" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 6)
  6. Having dissected animals and human cadavers, he followed the brain tissue down the spine and then out to various parts of the body. He correctly assumed that the nerves divided into parts much smaller than the naked eye can see. This is not that remarkable an assumption and others had made similar assumptions.
  7. "Whoever is moreover sufficiently verified in Anatomical researches, and has learnt to separate those parts of an animal body, which, however contiguous or closely connected, are nevertheless really distinct from each other, very readily discovers several soft fibres, each of which is actually divisible into many smaller of the same kind, as far as his eye can trace ; and he by analogy justly concludes that each of those smaller fibres is as capable of being still farther and farther divided beyond the reach of vision, and even of human imagination." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 6)
  8. "Every nerve, which is within the reach of our observation, is extended between the medulla oblongata (base of brain) or its appendage the medulla spinalis (spinal cord) and the place of such nerve's destination. But every such nerve is thus extended in a manner very different from the disposition of the blood-vessels, and indeed of all other portions of the same body which are called familiar." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 9)
  9. "Precipitating causes of madness are "black November days, unpleasant weather" and the "tempest of love, hate, and other passions." Where protracted disease and pains persist, a reactive depression may lead to suicide. Dr. Battie certainly proved that there is nothing new in psychiatry." ("A Treatise on Madness", William Battie, Introduction by James Brussel, 1968, p vi)
  10. "Thus the stomach, intestines, and uterus, are frequently the real seats of Madness, occasioned by the contents of these viscera being slopped in such a manner as to compress the many nervous filaments, which here communicate with one another by the mesenteric ganglia, and which enrich the contents of the abdomen with a more exquisite sensation. Thus the glutton who goes to bed upon a full stomach is hagridden [torment] in his sleep. Thus Men prove with child as powerful fancy works: And patients truly hypochondriacal or hysterical refer that load of uneasiness they feel in their bellies to some imaginary object, which if it really existed and ailed upon their senses would excite the very same idea." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 47)
  11. "madness is a ... disorder of that substance which is medullary and strictly nervous. ... The internal disorder of the medullary substance, or the cause of Original Madness, for the same reason as the immediate necessary and sufficient cause of true Sensation, can be but one : but the external and accidental causes of Consequential Madness, as well as of true Sensation, may be many."" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 44)
  12. "Another case of Consequential Madness is a sudden inflammation arising in those membranes which surround and therefore when thus distended compress the contents of the cranium and its nervous appendages." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 47)

K. Causes of madness: joy & anger

  1. The idea for Battie was that excessive joy and anger physically over stimulated the nerves and caused a breakdown that resulted in madness. Of course this is pure quackery!
  2. "And it is moreover a repeated observation that Madness frequently succeeds or accompanies Fever, Epilepsy, Child-birth, and the like muscular disorders ; and that the tumultuous and visibly spasmodic passions of joy and anger are all at least for a time maniacal. But these passions constringe the muscles of the head and neck, and therefore like a ligature force the blood that was descending in the jugular veins back upon the minutest vessels of the brain. Spasm therefore, when it is productive of tumors by Fluxion or of sudden distensions in the vessels contiguous to the nervous substance, as also spasmodic passions such as joy and anger are to be reckoned amongst the remoter causes of Madness." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 54)

L. Causes of madness: Gluttony

  1. Battie felt that gluttons went to bed with full stomachs which caused him to be restless in his sleep. This led to overstimulation of the nerves and madness.
  2. He explained that all that food in the tummy and intestines compressed the nerves which caused madness. Pure junk science!
  3. "Thus the stomach, intestines, and uterus, are frequently the real seats of Madness, occasioned by the contents of these viscera being slopped in such a manner as to compress the many nervous filaments, which here communicate with one another by the mesenteric ganglia, and which enrich the contents of the abdomen with a more exquisite sensation. Thus the glutton who goes to bed upon a full stomach is hagridden [torment] in his sleep. Thus Men prove with child as powerful fancy works: And patients truly hypochondriacal or hysterical refer that load of uneasiness they feel in their bellies to some imaginary object, which if it really existed and ailed upon their senses would excite the very same idea." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 47)
  4. "Gluttony therefore and idleness are both to be added to the remoter causes of Consequential Madness. To the first [Gluttony] is owing the meagrim of the Epicure [inclined to pleasure]. To the second [idleness, sloth, laziness], perhaps more than to a spirit of lying, may be ascribed the temptations of St. Anthony and the lazy Monks his followers, the ecstasies of sedentary [slow paced life] and chlorotic [iron-deficiency anemia, primarily of young women, characterized by a greenish-yellow discoloration of the skin. Also called greensickness] Nuns, and their frequent conversations with Angelic ministers of grace. Not to mention what now and then happens to the senior Recluses in our Protestant Monasteries at Oxford and Cambridge. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 59)
  5. "Madness consequential to gradual or chronical congestions occasioned by gluttony or idleness easily yields to medical care, if seasonably and properly applied." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 67)

M. Causes of madness: Fever, Epilepsy, Child-birth, muscular disorders

  1. Since Battie saw all mental illness caused by weak nerves, physical trauma to the body by way of child birth, fever, etc, that often caused distress to the body, actually caused mental illness.
  2. He says: "spasmodic passions such as joy and anger are to be reckoned amongst the remoter causes of Madness"
  3. "And it is moreover a repeated observation that Madness frequently succeeds or accompanies Fever, Epilepsy, Child-birth, and the like muscular disorders ; and that the tumultuous and visibly spasmodic passions of joy and anger are all at least for a time maniacal. But these passions constringe the muscles of the head and neck, and therefore like a ligature force the blood that was descending in the jugular veins back upon the minutest vessels of the brain. Spasm therefore, when it is productive of tumors by Fluxion or of sudden distensions in the vessels contiguous to the nervous substance, as also spasmodic passions such as joy and anger are to be reckoned amongst the remoter causes of Madness." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 54)

F. Causes of madness: Alcohol

  1. Batty believed getting drunk caused madness because it begins with wild partying, high physical activity, being out of control, which strained the nerves. As the person gets more drunk, the next stage was stupor (under stimulation of the nerves). This yoyo effect caused madness. Pure quackery!
  2. "The many bottle-companions whole pulses beat high and quick, whose faces are flushed with blood in the same manner as if they were strangled, who are first wild and then stupid, who drink till they see double, and then drink on till they cannot fee at all, as well as the crowds of wretches that infest our streets and fill our hospitals, evidently prove to the vulgar as well as to the Physician that vinous spirits instantaneously provoke an irregular action of the muscles succeeded by temporary delirium ; and that, if the same noxious draughts are taken in too large doses or frequently repeated, they become a very common tho' remoter cause of continual madness." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 54)

N. Causes of madness: exposure to Sunlight vs SAD?

  1. In the exact opposite to modern psychiatry's "SAD" or Seasonable affective disorder, Battie observed cases of madness that were triggered immediately by exposure to sunlight. Of course SAD is pure junk science for a long list of reasons.
  2. "One case of Consequential Madness that proves the intervention of such pressure is an effect of Insolation [exposure to Sunlight] or what the French call coup du soleil. An instance of which I lately met with in a Sailor, who became raving mad in a moment while the Sun beams darted perpendicularly upon his head. Which maniacal effect of heat could be attributed to no assignable cause, except either to the violent impression of the Sun's rays, upon the medullary substance of the brain, which the cranium in this case was not able to defend, or to the intermediate rarefaction of blood contained in the vessels of the Dura or Pia Mater, which vessels being suddenly distended compressed the same medullary substance." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 47)
  3. "When Insolation [exposure to Sunlight] by the intervening rarefaction of the blood contained in the brain produces delirium, this its mischievous effect frequently yields to the lancet [bloodletting], if not too late or too sparingly applied." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 63)

O. Cure of madness: assembly line approach!

  1. Battie knew it was difficult to tell if madness was "original" (and therefore untreatable) or "consequential" (and therefore treatable).
  2. So he had a single assembly line process for treating the mad. He treated everyone who entered the front door of St. Luke's mad house and treated them as though they suffered from "consequential" madness. Those who were not cured, he proclaimed were suffering from "original" madness, were untreatable. These generally ended up in chains and prison cells.
  3. For example, Battie discusses anxiety as being either "original" or "consequential", but begins treatment on all anxiety cases the same way! Only after watching to see if they respond, can you tell if they are "original" or "consequential".
  4. "the first species of [Original] Madness is incurable by any remedy which reason or experience suggests" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 71)
  5. Battie warns doctors not to assume madness is original until he has tried to treat them as suffering from mere "consequential" madness: "Nor ought any one to reject such temporary expedients, as unworthy the attention of a Physician in Original Anxiety, even tho' it should prove incurable by art ; who considers that it is his duty to protract the misery of his fellow creatures, if it be but for a moment ; and that anodynes [a drug that allays pain or soothes] are absolutely necessary in every case of Consequential Anxiety, until either the intolerable impulse of external objects can be entirely removed or weakened by such methods as particular circumstances require, or until the nervous integuments [something that covers] can be restored to their natural firmness by the astringent virtues of the Peruvian Bark, iron, vitriol [a sulfate of any of various metals: copper, iron, or zinc. "Geritol" is the modern version of this treatment and they were sued in the 1950's for making false claims.], mineral waters, and cold bathing ; which are the proper and often-times effectual remedies, whenever Anxiety arises from the laxity or defect of those membranes that surround and defend the medullary matter." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)
  6. Battie admitted there was no magic drug to cure madness. He predicted it would one day be found, but even today, no such chemical cures exist! Modern Neuroleptic drugs are no more a cure for madness than the opium that was prescribed by William Battie and John Monro in the 1750's. "altho' we may have reason to hope that the peculiar antidote of Madness is reserved in Nature's store, and will he brought to light in its appointed time ; yet such is our present misfortune, that either this important secret hath been by its inventors withheld from the rest of man-kind, or, which is more probable, hath never yet been discovered." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 71)
  7. Assembly line process: "Besides, since the characters that distinguish Original from Consequential Madness are not always so clear and certain as to leave no room for error, and since Original Madness is not curable by any method which human reason or experience hath hitherto been able to discover; we should take great care not to do harm where it is not in our power to do any good, and not dwell too long on endeavouring to remove the causes of Madness, which perhaps are only imaginary, more especially if the methods to be made use of are by no means indifferent. For which reason, whenever upon sufficient trial not only of vomits but even of rougher purges, tho' rationally indicated at first, the patient grows worse or at least gains no ground, they are all entirely to be laid aside." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 97)

P. Cure of madness: confinement

  1. Battie believed that "isolation alone without medicine" in a mad house provided was an important part of the cure for madness. The reasons was that normal stress was working on a person with weak nerves and if you removed them from their stressful environment, they would recover to sanity!
  2. Unlike the Monro's at Bedlam, Battie strongly rebuked the practice of the day of allowing the general public into the mad houses to mock, ridicule and torment the inmates. This according to Battie's bad nerve theory, would nullify the very purpose he envisioned for the mad house as a place to relieve stress on the nerves, not create it!
  3. "The patient was to be removed entirely from the context wherein he or she had become mad, including family, friends and external pressures. Only in such a state of asylum could treatment have a chance of success." (Patterns of Madness in the Eighteenth Century, A Reader, Allan Ingram, 1998 AD, p112)
  4. "The Regimen and Cure of Madness. ... The Regimen in this is perhaps of more importance than in any distemper. It was the saying of a very eminent practitioner in such cases that management did much more than medicine; and repeated experience has convinced me that confinement alone is oftentimes sufficient, but always so necessary, that without it every method hitherto devised for the cure of Madness would be ineffectual. Madness then, considered as delusive Sensation unconnected with any other symptom, requires the patient's being removed from all objects that act forcibly upon the nerves, and excite too lively a perception of things, more especially from such objects as are the known causes of his disorder; for the same reason as rest is recommended to bodies fatigued, and the not attempting to walk when the ankles are strained. The visits therefore of affecting friends as well as enemies, and the impertinent curiosity of those, who think it pastime to converse with Madmen and to play upon their passions, ought strictly to be forbidden. On the same account the place of confinement should be at some distance from home: and, let him be where he will, none of his own servants should be suffered to wait upon him. For all persons, whom he may think he hath his accustomed right to command, if they disobey his extravagant orders will probably ruffle him to the highest pitch of fury, or if they comply will suffer him to continue in a distracted and irresolute state of mind, and will leave him to the mercy of various passions, any one of which when unrestrained is oftentimes more than sufficient to hurry a sober man out of his senses. Every unruly appetite must be checked, every fixed imagination must if possible be diverted. The patient's body and place of residence is carefully to be kept clean: the air he breaths should be dry and free from noisom steams: his food easy of digestion and simple, neither spirituous, nor high seasoned and full of poignancy: his amusements not too engaging nor too long continued, but rendered more agreeable by a well timed variety. Lastly his employment should be about such things as are rather indifferent, and which approach the nearest to an intermediate state (if such there be) between pleasure and anxiety. As to the cure of Madness, this like the cure of any other disease consists, 1. In removing or correcting its causes: 2. In removing or correcting its symptoms: 3. In preventing, removing, or correcting its ill effects." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 68)

Q. Cure of madness: opium, drugs!

  1. Contrary to popular myth, Battie regularly prescribed opium.
  2. Battie admitted there was no magic drug to cure madness. He predicted it would one day be found, but even today, no such chemical cures exist! Modern Neuroleptic drugs are no more a cure for madness than the opium that was prescribed by William Battie and John Monro in the 1750's. "altho' we may have reason to hope that the peculiar antidote of Madness is reserved in Nature's store, and will he brought to light in its appointed time ; yet such is our present misfortune, that either this important secret hath been by its inventors withheld from the rest of man-kind, or, which is more probable, hath never yet been discovered." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 71)
  3. This myth is based upon a sloppy reading of the book. On page 93 Batty says this: "[Original/incurable] Madness therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods, v.g. [latin: verbi gratia: for example] bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid antihysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing, and vomits." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)
  4. "Anxiety, when it is Original, resembles Original Madness, and for the same reason seems as much out of the reach of medical assistance : But in fact its case is more fortunate ; and, tho' Original Anxiety is just as incapable as Original Madness of being relieved by rational intention, it is however frequently palliated by more than one Specific remedy. ... forasmuch as such poignant stimuli must irritate before their narcotic virtues can take effect ; yet I have often prescribed the Extraurn thebaicum [opium] from one to five grains without any ill consequence to such mad patients as were uneasy and raving all the night as well as day. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)

R. Cure of madness: Torture and pain:

  1. In case you hadn't comprehended the key point, Battie believed that torture, pain and suffering on the mad actually cured them. The reason was because it agitates, excites and exercises the body out of its normal mode of being.
  2. Sure he offers a few cautions, but he clearly believed that making the inmate uncomfortable unclogged the nerves and cured the mad!
  3. "And, altho' blisters, caustics, and sharp purges quickned with white Hellebore [herb flower: purgative], and indeed all painful applications, not only evacuate and thereby relieve delirious pressure, but also rouse and exercise the body, and seem more peculiarly adapted to Insensibility when it is a symptom or consequence of Madness; nevertheless these and all pungent substances are to be tried with great caution, or rather are not to be tried at all in fits of fury." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 94)

S. Cure of madness: Cold baths:

  1. Battie admits that cold baths were "sometimes chiefly if not solely relied on in the cure of Madness".
  2. Battie used cold baths from some forms of madness and forbade cold baths in other forms of madness.
  3. "Mineral waters drank at the fountain head and bathing in the sea or cold fresh water have been sometimes chiefly if not solely relied on in the cure of Madness, more especially when attended with Anxiety and known by the name of Melancholy." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 96)

T. Cure madness: violent vomits, diarrhea and sneezing

  1. Contrary to popular myth, Battie regularly prescribed vomits, purges, opium.
  2. Monro openly stated that vomits was his treatment of choice! "I never saw or heard of the bad effect of vomits, in my practice; not can I suppose any mischief to happen, but from their being injudiciously administered; or when they are given too strong, or the person who orders them is too much afraid of the lancet. The prodigious quantity of phlegm, with which those abound who are troubled with this complaint, is not to be got the better of but by repeated vomits; and we very often find, that purges have not their right effect, or do not operate to so good purpose, until the phlegm is broken and attenuated by frequent emeticks." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  3. Monro gives an example of a man who was cured with vomits: "I lately received from a worthy friend of mine the case of a gentleman, who had laboured under a melancholy for three years; he himself calls it an hypochondriacal, convulsive disorder, from which he was relieved entirely by the use of vomits, and a proper regimen. So very sensible was he of their good effects, that he did not scruple to take sixty-one from the third of October to the second of April following; and for eighteen nights successively one each night; by which means he got rid of a prodigious quantity of phlegm, and obtained a perfect recovery. The first seventeen were composed of one ounce of the yin. ipecacoan. with one grain of emetic tartar, and afterwards he made use of no more than half an ounce of the wine. And those, who are much used to hypochondriacal people, will find them in general less weakened with vomits than purges." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  4. Monro, like Battie practiced bloodletting and purging: "Bleeding and purging are both requisite in the cure of madness; but rough catharticks are no otherwise particularly necessary in this distemper than on account of the phlegm, and to conquer the obstinacy of the patients, who will sometimes frustrate the operation of more gentle medicines." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  5. Battie clearly prescribed violent vomits, diarrhea and sneezing which would literally shake up the spinal cord and nervous system.
  6. This myth is based upon a sloppy reading of the book. On page 93 Batty says this: "We are likewise, as Physicians, taught a very useful lesson, viz. That, altho' Madness is frequently taken for one species of disorder, nevertheless, when thoroughly examined, it discovers as much variety with respect to its causes and circumstances as any distemper whatever. [Original/uncurable] Madness therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods, v.g. [latin: verbi gratia: for example] bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid antihysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing, and vomits." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)
  7. It is important to realize that Battie is referring to those with "original/incurable/untreatable madness" when he says: "Madness therefore, like most other morbid cases, rejects all general methods, v.g. [latin: verbi gratia: for example] bleeding, blisters, caustics, rough cathartics, the gumms and faetid antihysterics, opium, mineral waters, cold bathing, and vomits." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p
  8. So much for the myth that Battie "was a leader and visionary of his day by seeing that vomits, purges etc were of no use in madness". All this is pure junk science and quackery!
  9. "When pressure of the brain or nerves is sudden, both these intentions may safely and effectually be answered by the lancet and cupping-glass again and again repeated in proportion to the strength of the patient and the greatness of the pressure; by neutral salts, which gently stimulating the intestines and sensible parts contained in the abdomen provoke stools and urine: of this sort are Nitre, Sal Catharticus amarus, Magnesia alba, Tartar, and all its preparations, more especially the Sal Diureticus deservedly recommended by Dr. Mead in Maniacal cases. And Revulsion in particular may be successfully attempted by the oily and penetrating steams arising from skins and other soft parts of animals newly slain, by tepid fomentations and cataplasms applied to the head legs and feet, by oily and emollient glysters; which are of very great service not only as they empty the belly, but also and indeed chiefly because they serve as a fomentation to the intestinal tube, and by relaxing the branches of the aorta descendens, which are here distributed in great number, make it more capable of receiving the blood; which will therefore according to the known course of fluid matter be diverted from the head. The same intentions of Depletion and Revulsion seem indeed to recommend sinapisms [ointment made of mustard], caustics [burn the skin to create blister of clear fluid], errhines [induce sneezing], and vesicatories [induce blisters], as also the rougher cathartics [induce diarrhea], emetics [induce vomiting], and volatile diaphoretics [induce sweat by elevating body temperature]. But when we reflect that a spasmodic constriction is by no means the least amongst the remoter causes of Madness, we shall in every case of sudden pressure be fearful of any powerful irritation that endangers constriction, and that cannot answer either intention unless it previously excites an irregular action of the muscles." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 74)
  10. "But, when delirious pressure of the nervous substance, more particularly that contained in the abdomen, is gradual or chronical, if such gentle evacuants, tho' often and properly repeated, prove unable to lessen or relieve the stagnating matter, and in case the weakness of the patient does not contraindicate, here the third and fourth intentions take place: and it becomes absolutely necessary to shake with violence the head and hypochondria [abdomen] by convulsing the muscular fibres with emetics rougher purges and errhines [sneezing]. For such spasmodic action communicates a vibrating motion to the solid fibres of the whole body; whereby the overloaded membranes and integuments that compress the contiguous medullary substance remove or expell their morbid contents, and the patient delivered from his delirious incumbrances frequently recovers his former sanity of mind as well as body." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 77)
  11. Battie admitted there was no magic drug to cure madness. He predicted it would one day be found, but even today, no such chemical cures exist! Modern Neuroleptic drugs are no more a cure for madness than the opium that was prescribed by William Battie and John Monro in the 1750's. "altho' we may have reason to hope that the peculiar antidote of Madness is reserved in Nature's store, and will he brought to light in its appointed time ; yet such is our present misfortune, that either this important secret hath been by its inventors withheld from the rest of man-kind, or, which is more probable, hath never yet been discovered." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 71)
  12. The very last paragraph of Battie's book gives instructions for "vomits and rougher purges" that should be administered only in spring and fall, for no longer than 8 weeks and where all drugs like opium are prescribed alternatingly every 2nd or 3rd week. He also says that when the patient shows signs of improvement, all rougher treatments should stop:
  13. "To which remarks arising as just conclusions from reasoning upon the unavoidable action of vomits and rougher purges, I shall beg leave to add some cautions, which experience has suggested as necessary to be communicated to the young practitioner, even when such active medicines are proper. viz. 1. If the season of the year is in the choice of the Physician, to prefer the Spring or Autumn, as being in neither extreme of cold or heat : 2. Not to persist in their use at any one time for a longer term than six or eight weeks: 3. Even during that term to give a respite every other or at least every third week from all drugs except the gumms, neutral salts, or gentle solutives : 4. As soon as the patient visibly approaches to a state of sanity, entirely to discontinue these and all other violent methods ; that the animal fibres, which have been strained either by the causes of Madness or perhaps by the means of removing them, may be at liberty to recover their natural firmness and just approximation of particles, which a repeated concussion will certainly prevent." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 99)
  14. "Anxiety, when it is Original, resembles Original Madness, and for the same reason seems as much out of the reach of medical assistance : But in fact its case is more fortunate ; and, tho' Original Anxiety is just as incapable as Original Madness of being relieved by rational intention, it is however frequently palliated by more than one Specific remedy. ... forasmuch as such poignant stimuli must irritate before their narcotic virtues can take effect ; yet I have often prescribed the Extraurn thebaicum [opium] from one to five grains without any ill consequence to such mad patients as were uneasy and raving all the night as well as day. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)
  15. "Insensibility, Idiotism, Folly, or whatever name it is usually known by, is, as hath been observed, almost always beyond the power of rational or Specific relief. Nevertheless, that nothing may be left untried, it seems advisable to make general evacuations, and to contrive partial but constant discharges of the fluids from the head and neck by perpetual blisters, setons [thread, gauze, or other material passed through subcutaneous tissue or a cyst to create a sinus or fistula], and issues. It may likewise be of some service, if nothing contraindicates, to shake the whole solid frame by vomits, cathartics, errhines, and all sorts of tolerable irritation. To which may be added, but not without great caution, the subtle and penetrating particles contained in mineral waters drank at the fountain-head, and the concussive force of the cold-bath. or sea, water." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 90)

U. Cure of madness: bloodletting: 

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  1. Battie was a humoral doctor. This is no surprise. He often prescribed bloodletting in many medical diseases and in some cases of madness.
  2. Monro believed bloodletting was helpful to cure the mad: "Bleeding and purging are both requisite in the cure of madness; but rough catharticks are no otherwise particularly necessary in this distemper than on account of the phlegm, and to conquer the obstinacy of the patients, who will sometimes frustrate the operation of more gentle medicines." (Remarks on Dr Battie's Treatise on Madness, John Monro, 1758 AD)
  3. Battie suggested that the key to bloodletting the mad, was to only take as much blood to the proportion of their strength. Ie. if they are strong, take lots of blood. If weak, less. If very weak none because it can kill as surely as a sword!
  4. "When Insolation [exposure to Sunlight] by the intervening rarefaction of the blood contained in the brain produces delirium, this its mischievous effect frequently yields to the lancet [bloodletting], if not too late or too sparingly applied." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 63)
  5. "When pressure of the brain or nerves is sudden, both these intentions may safely and effectually be answered by the lancet [bloodletting] and cupping-glass again and again repeated in proportion to the strength of the patient and the greatness of the pressure" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 74)
  6. If a man is weak and convulsed already, Battie said that "the lancet" bloodletting is as destructive as running them through with a sword: "For bleeding, tho' apparently serviceable and necessary in inflammation of the brain, in rarefaction of the fluids, or a plethoric habit of body, is how ever no more the adequate and constant cure of Madness, than it is of fever. Nor is the lancet, when applied to a feeble and convulsed Lunatic, less destructive than a sword." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)

V. Battie cautioned some treatments: 

  1. It is important to remember that in these cautions, Battie prescribed them for madness in other cases.
  2. Battie prescribed bloodletting in some cases of madness, but if a man is weak and convulsed already, Battie said that "the lancet" bloodletting is as destructive as running them through with a sword: "For bleeding, tho' apparently serviceable and necessary in inflammation of the brain, in rarefaction of the fluids, or a plethoric habit of body, is how ever no more the adequate and constant cure of Madness, than it is of fever. Nor is the lancet, when applied to a feeble and convulsed Lunatic, less destructive than a sword." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 93)
  3. Although he used White Hellebore, Battie found no use at all for Black Hellebore: "For after several trials I have not the least reason to think it [Black hellebore] of any service in Madness." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 95)
  4. "Mineral waters drank at the fountain head and bathing in the sea or cold fresh water have been sometimes chiefly if not solely relied on in the cure of Madness, more especially when attended with Anxiety and known by the name of Melancholy. Nevertheless such methods of relief are all apparently contraindicated, whenever there is sufficient reason to suspect that irresoluble congestions of the fluids clog the membranes contiguous to the nervous substance, or that the solids are strained beyond the possibility of recovering their natural elasticity. For in case of irresoluble congestions every drop of water, whether mineral or not, taken into the circulation will be added to the obstructing matter ; and the contracting force of cold or of sea-water applied externally will make the same matter more incapable, if possible, of being resolved. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 96)
  5. "Lastly with respect to Vomits, tho' it may seem almost heretical to impeach their antimaniacal virtues; yet, when we reflect that the good effects which can be rationally proposed from such shocking operations are all nevertheless the consequences of a morbid convulsion, these active medicines are apparently contraindicated, whenever there is reason to suspect that the vessels of the brain or nervous integuments are so much clogged or strained as to endanger a rupture or further disunion, instead of a deliverance from their oppressive loads. The same objection equally holds good against such muscular irritation, whenever the vessels are contracted with excessive cold, or when their contents are rarefied by heat, as also in constitutions that are lax and feeble or naturally spasmodic, and in several other circumstances which need no particular description" (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 97)
  6. "For Madness, like several other animal distempers, oftentimes ceases spontaneously, that is without our being able to assign a sufficient reason; and many a Lunatic, who by the repetition of vomits and other convulsive stimuli would have been strained into downright Idiotism, has when given over as incurable recovered his understanding." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 98)
  7. "To which remarks arising as just conclusions from reasoning upon the unavoidable action of vomits and rougher purges, I shall beg leave to add some cautions, which experience has suggested as necessary to be communicated to the young practitioner, even when such active medicines are proper. viz. 1. If the season of the year is in the choice of the Physician, to prefer the Spring or Autumn, as being in neither extreme of cold or heat : 2. Not to persist in their use at any one time for a longer term than six or eight weeks: 3. Even during that term to give a respite every other or at least every third week from all drugs except the gumms, neutral salts, or gentle solutives : 4. As soon as the patient visibly approaches to a state of sanity, entirely to discontinue these and all other violent methods ; that the animal fibres, which have been strained either by the causes of Madness or perhaps by the means of removing them, may be at liberty to recover their natural firmness and just approximation of particles, which a repeated concussion will certainly prevent." (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 99)

W. Battie on Melancholy: no cold baths or mineral water

  1. Battie believed melancholy was caused by laziness and inactivity which led to under use of the nervous system which became stagnant and clogged.
  2. Battie stated that cold baths harmed those suffering from melancholy because it narrowed the blood vessels and nerves further aggravating the very problem of "clogged nerves".
  3. Battie also forbade melancholy inmates from drinking mineral waters because he felt the extra minerals would lead to a further clogging of the nervous system.
  4. Pure quackery!
  5. "Mineral waters drank at the fountain head and bathing in the sea or cold fresh water have been sometimes chiefly if not solely relied on in the cure of Madness, more especially when attended with Anxiety and known by the name of Melancholy. Nevertheless such methods of relief are all apparently contraindicated, whenever there is sufficient reason to suspect that irresoluble congestions of the fluids clog the membranes contiguous to the nervous substance, or that the solids are strained beyond the possibility of recovering their natural elasticity. For in case of irresoluble congestions every drop of water, whether mineral or not, taken into the circulation will be added to the obstructing matter ; and the contracting force of cold or of sea-water applied externally will make the same matter more incapable, if possible, of being resolved. " (A Treatise on Madness, William Battie, 1758 AD, p 96)

Conclusion:

  1. For William Battie all madness was caused by "weak nerves". If one was born with bad nerves, he called your madness "original" and stated it was incurable and rejected all treatments. If you were born with good nerves, but any one of 12 things he listed caused nerve damage, he recommended all the vomits, bloodletting and opium he could find!
  2. Battie clearly gets our respect over John Monro for a number of reasons. He was opposed to the public humiliation of inmates by outsiders who paid admission as to a zoo, for entertainment.
  3. His main contribution was break with tradition and suggest that "bad nerves" were the cause of madness, whereas John Monro claimed the etiology of madness would never be found. This is seen in why he believed vomits cured the mad: Monro viewed the cure in strictly humoralistic terms in removing the phlegm from the body. Battie was every bit a humoralist as Monro, but viewed the curing effect of vomits in the physical shaking of the nerves and brain matter that resulted from vomiting.
  4. However it is important to remember that the entire concept of "bad nerves" appeared in print in 1729 AD, in a bood by Nicholas Robinson. This was about 30 year before Battie came along: "WHEN once these finest Fibres of the Brain, that immediately support the regular Exercise of our Thoughts, have suffered such a fatal Shock; no Operation of the Mind, that is regular, sedate, and uniform, can ever after be expected; but all his Actions will be express'd by sudden Fits and Catches; and shew themselves in all the Diversity of Characters, according to the prevailing Passions that struck the Impulse. Thus the gay and merry, the fond and loving, the angry, revengeful, or Scholastick Characters, succeed each other, by sudden Starts and Sallies, according to the natural Passion he was subject to, before the Invasion of the Disease." (A New System of the Spleen, Nicholas Robinson, 1729 AD)

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