Society, Social Policy and Lunacy: the Limits to the Legal Approach, 1890–1939

  • Tom Butler


It would be misleading to argue that the emergence of the lunacy laws in the nineteenth century was a response to the problem of social order. The mentally disordered were not enlisted in any form of political campaign and, unlike in France, their emancipation was not just part of a political programme. The magistrates who operated the lunacy laws regarded their tasks not as an expression of social control but as a social duty of the propertied classes to administer the local state. Therefore lunacy was a contemporary problem, but not one of order. In this sense, lunacy policy was not an object of class control but, like the poor laws, the subject of it.


Mental Health Social Policy Central Government Mental Hospital Mental Health Policy 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Tom Butler 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Butler
    • 1
  1. 1.GloucesterUK

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