Year: 2003 Source: History of Psychiatry, v.14, no.3, (2003), p.281-301 SIEC No: 20050256

This paper analyzes civil court records relating to the mental illness (including suicidality) of New Jersey residents from 1790 to 1867. The records demonstrate that the social contexts out of which mad behaviour emerged at a given period, & the social responses to that behaviour, could influence the incidence & prevalence of mental illness. The author argues that attention to historical context leads to the conclusion that mental illness in ante-bellum New Jersey was a complex social & biopathological product. (117 refs)