This article revisits the notorious trial of William Windham, a wealthy young man accused of lunacy. The trial in 1861-2 saw the country's foremost experts on psychological medicine very publicly debate the concepts, symptoms and diagnosis of insanity. I begin by surveying the trial and the testimonies of medical experts. Their disparate assessments of Windham evoked heated reactions in the press and Parliament; these reactions are the focus of the second section. I then proceed to examine criticism of psychiatry in the newspapers more generally in the 1860s, outlining the political resistance to psychiatry and the responses of some leading psychiatrists. In conclusion, I consider what this says about the politics of medicalization at the time.
Bibliographical noteThe acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.
- expert testimony
- 19th century