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Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis

  • John Johnson (a1)
Abstract
Background

Creativity, religiosity and madness have long been thought to be aetiologically interrelated.

Method

Henry Maudsley's little known pathography of the 17th century Swedish philosopher and polymath, Emanuel Swedenborg, was examined.

Results

Swedenborg developed a messianic psychosis in middle life, considered by Maudsley to be a monomania, possibly due to epilepsy. Many of Swedenborg's contemporaries thought of him, however, as a religious eccentric. Under criticism from Swedenborg's followers, Maudsley avoided further reference to Swedenborg, and the pathography was lost from view.

Conclusions

Renewed interest is deserved in the contentious issues of the nature of religiosity and its relationship to psychotic experience.

British Journal of Psychiatry (1994), 165, 690–691

Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr J. Johnson, 135 Palatine Road, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 9YA
References
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Howden, J. C. (1873) The religious sentiment in epileptics. Journal of Mental Science, 18, 491497.
Jaspers, K. (1959) General Psychopathology (7th edn: trans. Hoenig, J. & Hamilton, M. W.). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kleist, K. (1928) Cycloid paranoid and epileptoid psychoses and the problem of degenerative psychosis. In Themes and Variations in European Psychiatry (1974) (eds Hirsch, S. R. & Shepherd, M.). Bristol: John Wright.
Lewis, A. (1961) Agents of cultural advance. In The State of Psychiatry (1967) London: Routledge & Keegan Paul.
Maudsley, H. (1869) Emanuel Swedenborg. Journal of Mental Science, 15, 169198.
Maudsley, H. (1879) The Pathology of Mind. London: Macmillan.
Maudsley, H. (1895) The Pathology of Mind (1979) London: John Freed man.
Nisbet, J. F. (1891) The Insanity of Genius. London: Ward and Downey.
White, W. (1867) Emanuel Swedenborg: His Life and Writings. London: Simpkin.
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis

  • John Johnson (a1)
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