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Insanity in British Guiana

  • B. Grieve (a1)
Extract

From the short time at my disposal, and from not having beside me the complete records of the asylum, my remarks to-day must necessarily be more limited in their scope and desultory in their character than under other circumstances would have been the case. I must content myself with bringing before you, in a very general way, some facts relating to the proportion of insane amongst the different races and people which go to make up the much diversified population of British Guiana, and I may notice also a few of the more prominent forms of insanity seen in that colony. What I have to say may, I trust, possess sufficient novelty to be interesting, and may prove none the less suggestive, although its object be not to support any preconceived or pet theory. British Guiana, although a West Indian Colony, forms part of the mainland of the Continent of South America, and amongst its inhabitants is seen a diversity of races as great, if not greater, than in any other country of like extent. There are two large primary divisions into which the population may be separated, namely, those born in the colony—in local phraseology called creoles—and immigrants. In 1871, the date of the last census, the population of the country numbered 218,909, consisting of 103,775 creoles and 115,134 immigrants. Neither in these numbers nor in any subsequent calculations are the aboriginal Indians (bucks) included, who inhabit the interior of the Colony, and who do not supply any contingent to its known insane population. The first division or creoles comprises a very large population of blacks of fine negro blood, descendants of the local slaves of pre-liberation days and of black immigrants subsequently brought from Africa or the neighbouring West Indian islands. In this class are to be found the greatest number of the coloured people of mixed African and European extraction in various degrees of combination, with a few white creoles of pure European descent. Amongst the immigrants are included, firstly, the black and coloured people who have come from the other West Indian colonies, chiefly from Barbadoes; secondly, negroes born in Africa imported as free labourers, and who mostly belong to the West Coast tribes; thirdly, many East Indians (coolies) brought under indenture to work as labourers on the sugar estates; fourthly, a good number of Chinese, introduced for the most part under similar circumstances; fifthly, Portuguese who have come from Madeira and the Cape de Verde Islands; and, lastly, a comparatively small proportion of Europeans.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Insanity in British Guiana

  • B. Grieve (a1)
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