Writing About Insane Asylums

Lunatic Asylum of Tennessee

Several former patients wrote books about their experiences in an insane asylum, but one unusual work went beyond that. In 1846, a patient named G. Grimes wrote A Treatise on the Most Important Subject in the World: Simply to Say, Insanity. The officers of the Nashville, TN Lunatic Asylum certified that Grimes wrote the book while a patient at the institution–which he still was at the time of their certification. The book sold for 50 cents a copy.

Grimes gave his background and route to insanity, but concentrated most of his rather academic discussion on the causes and treatment of insanity in general. His claim that “There are other Medical books which treat on Insanity, but comparatively few to the population, and none written by an Insane man,” was almost certainly true.

The next post will give a flavor of Grimes’ thoughts on the topic.

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