Sanity and Insanity
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Sanity and Insanity, Charles Arthur Mercier, 1890 AD
"Thirdly, a knowledge of the principles on which insanity should be regarded can scarcely fail to be of service to that large, and now much increased, section of the community who have to do officially, but as amateurs, with the insane. I refer to the magistrates under the new Lunacy Act, to barristers, and others. The want of knowledge of the rudiments of insanity among the general public is remarkable. I have heard a Queen's Counsel gravely tell a jury that it was against the law for a lunatic: to be sent to an asylum unless he (the lunatic) was dangerous. That is, fortunately, not the law ; but there are very many people who are in are strongly of opinion that it ought. to be the law. A very little knowledge of lunacy would alter this opinion. Apart front the fact that it is desirable to cure the insanity, and that in many cases a cure can only be attempted within an asylum; apart from the necessity, that so often exists, of secluding a perfectly harmless lunatic in order to prevent him from squandering his means and ruining himself and his family; apart from the desirability of restraining him from performing acts which are not dangerous, but which are disgraceful, and which he himself would, on his recovery, be loudest in blaming his friends for not preventing ; there remains the most important fact that the distinguishing feature of the insane is, not their dangerous aggressiveness, but their revolting indecency and obscenity. Of course, not all the insane are thus characterized, but a majority of them, probably a large majority, of both men and women are, or would be if freed from restraint, more shameless and filthy in their conduct than so many monkeys. It is not merely that the public must be protected from such conduct as this. They have a right, also, to be prevented from witnessing it, to be protected from the danger of witnessing it; and it is for this reason, more than for any other, that the seclusion of the insane in asylums is necessary and right." (Sanity and Insanity, Charles Arthur Mercier, 1890 AD, p xiv)
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