Tell Us All About It

Amariah Brigham, courtesy National Library of Medicine

Amariah Brigham, courtesy National Library of Medicine

After the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane formed, they needed a format in which to discuss emerging ideas, treatments, and work experiences within the mental health field.

The superintendent of Utica (N.Y.) State Hospital, Amariah Brigham (1798-1849), created the American Journal of Insanity as a forum for this exchange of information, and probably wrote all the articles for its first issue. Though it was the mouthpiece of the association, Utica State Hospital owned the AJI until the Association of Medical Superintendents bought it in 1892. Its name was changed to the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1921.

AJI’s first issue (July 1844) discussed “Insanity Illustrated by Cases.” One such case began: “Mr. ___, aged 48, had uniformly enjoyed good health until the summer of 1842, when he complained some of not feeling well, was weak and dyspeptic, and in November had what was supposed to be a slight paralytic attack. For this and severe pain of the head he was bled seven or eight times, took cathartic medicines and was blistered largely. He remained dull and disinclined to exercise for five or six weeks, when he became suddenly deranged…”

American Journal of Insanity, courtesy National Library of Medicine

American Journal of Insanity, courtesy National Library of Medicine

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