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

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

Laure Murat

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226025735

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon explores for the first time, in archives and unpublished materials, the relationship between history and madness, ideology and pathology. “Ambitious monomania,” “revolutionary neuroses,” “democratic disease” are names of just some of the many “diseases” related to political convictions that French physicians discovered from 1789 to 1871. How can one read today this epistemological construction? Is history legible through registers of lunatic asylums and how? By investigating nineteenth-century medical cases and doctors’ observations, this book attempts to understand how political events such as revolutions and the rise of new systems of government affect mental health and/or can be represented as delirious in psychiatric and literary discourses. Rather than denouncing wrongful confinements, this book analyzes what is at stake in the intertwined discourses of madness, psychiatry, and political theory.