The moral government of idiots: moral treatment in the work of Seguin

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    Abstract

    This paper considers the role which moral treatment played in the treatment of idiots in the nineteenth century and particularly in the work of Edouard Seguin. It uses this discourse to identify some of the key elements of the definition of what constituted the "moral", viz. teleology, discipline and humane treatment. By way of interpretation, moral treatment and the "physiological method" of treating idiocy are presented as being based more on utility in securing the ends of social and productive subjects than on humanitarian notions of care or treatment. In additon, the paper supports the view that moral teatment allowed physicians to claim effectiveness in a field in which success had otherwise eluded them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-243
    Number of pages17
    JournalHistory of Psychiatry
    Volume10
    Issue number38
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

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