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The Man Who Thought He Was NapoleonToward a Political History of Madness$
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Laure Murat

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226025735

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226025872.001.0001

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Asylum or Political Prison?

Asylum or Political Prison?

(p.71) Two Asylum or Political Prison?
The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon

Laure Murat

University of Chicago Press

This chapter sheds light on the ambiguity between prison and hospital. After the French Revolution, many clinics were transformed into prisons, while continuing to practice medicine, and it is occasionally difficult to differentiate between care and detention. What are the criteria for madness when politics is involved? There is sometimes a fine line between political insurgents and people declared insane and institutionalized by governments. The most famous of the cases studied in this chapter is the Marquis de Sade, institutionalized because of his writings and put in the lunatic asylum of Charenton. His doctor acknowledged that Sade was not clinically “insane” but guilty of “moral indecency.” Another memorable example is General Malet who tried to overthrow Napoleon and was diagnosed as a maniac.

Keywords:   asylum, Charenton Hospital, François Simonnet de Coulmier, dissidence, Claude François de Malet, Marquis de Sade, Donatien Alphonse François de Sade

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