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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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Morbus Democraticus

Morbus Democraticus

Chapter:
(p.147) Four Morbus Democraticus
Source:
The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon
Author(s):

Laure Murat

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226025872.003.0005

This chapter looks at the illnesses attached to revolutions, among which “morbus democraticus” (“democratic disease”) that was said to drive people to rebellion and to a morbid desire for equality. But why would revolt be considered systematically unhealthy, while order, including the most authoritarian, considered sane? In their effort to link revolution to madness, psychiatrists had to acknowledge that the number of confinements decreased during revolutionary periods and increased in times of political stability. But such statistics could be interpreted either that madness has nothing to do with revolution, or that it is the aftermath of political involvement. Medical cases, such as the revolutionary feminist Théroigne de Méricourt, or specific periods, such as the year 1848 and the birth of the Second Republic, contribute to a debate over how ideology and patriarchy continuously contaminate the scientific discourse.

Keywords:   1848 Revolution, democracy, Carl Theodor Groddeck, Théroigne de Méricourt

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