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Pathological Appearances observed in the Brains of the Insane

  • W. G. Balfour (a1)

In the “Journal of Mental Science” for October, 1870, Dr. Howden, the Superintendent of the Montrose Asylum, published an analysis of the lesions observed by him in the brains of 235 persons who died insane, and expressed a hope that some uniform method of arranging the morbid appearances found in the insane after death would be adopted by Psychologists, so as to render of scientific value the postmortem records of the different asylums, and be a ready means of reference to any one working at special lesions. Dr. Tuke, in an appendix to the annual report of the Fife and Kinross Asylum for 1871, followed the plan proposed by Dr. Howden, and arranged in a tabular form the lesions found by him in the brains of 75 insane persons. With the sanction of Dr. Marshall, I collected and arranged, in a similar way, the lesions observed in the brains of 390 women who died in Colney Hatch. From these sources Table I. has been formed. It shows the lesions and their frequency in the brains of 700 people who died insane, and although its value is greatly lessened by the absence of the history, symptoms, and form of insanity under which the patients laboured, still it gives the changes from health to disease, which are, to a certain extent, peculiar to insanity.

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* In text books the weight of the entire brain is stated to be greater amongst the insane than in the sane, the assertion being founded on the authority of the late Dr. Skae, who published a series of tables, showing the weight of the insane brain when contrasted with the sane. An examination of the statistics furnished by Dr. Skae shows that, in calculating the average weight for the total number of brains weighed, he did not add ail the weighings together, and then strike the average, but only the average weights in the decennial periods. Happening to have a very large brain weight in one of those periods, and only one in that period, he took it for an average, and so raised the whole much above what they would have been had he calculated from all the weighings.

* Dr. Howden, of the Montrose Asylum, was the first to point out the origin of false membranes in the arachnoid sac, and I have frequently verified the correctness of his statements.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0368-315X
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Pathological Appearances observed in the Brains of the Insane

  • W. G. Balfour (a1)
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