It is a commonplace of clinical practice that those with obsessional disorder, or with obsessional features to a psychotic illness, often develop concerns about cleanliness and contamination, some with a focus on everyday bodily processes. In a search of the Patent Office for psychotic ideas (James & Gilluley, 1997), it became apparent that patents reflecting concern about bodily functions were strongly represented in the patent collection. These stood out from patents concerning innovation in conventional medicine or medical appliances, and some of them had the flavour of the more bizarre ideas on the subject put forward by patients in our psychiatric practice. It was decided to explore the collection of the Patent Office further, with a view to surveying the range of such patents and examining their relation to the times in which they originated. The procedure used was the same as in our previous article.
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