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American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176864

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176864.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

An Incurable Lunatic

An Incurable Lunatic

Pension Politics in the Struggle for Respectability

Chapter:
(p.70) Chapter Three An Incurable Lunatic
Source:
American Misfits and the Making of Middle-Class Respectability
Author(s):

Robert Wuthnow

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691176864.003.0004

In the postbellum nineteenth century, institutional support for the families of the mentally ill was far less available than it would be a century later. People in these circumstances had only their own resources to depend on and perhaps the assistance they could draw up from relatives and friends. This chapter demonstrates the extent to which insanity not only separated individuals so identified from the rest of the community by institutionalizing them but also placed the families of the insane in an ambiguous status that required cultural and organizational negotiation. It presents the previously unexamined history of one family that illuminates many of the challenges that other families, individuals, and communities faced at the time. The story traces the life of a man who fought for his country, moved west with the expanding frontier, experienced a modicum of success, raised a family, and then became an incurable lunatic.

Keywords:   insanity, mentally ill, insane, American middle class, nineteenth century, respectability

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