10 IDIOCY AND THE CONCEPTUAL ECONOMY OF MADNESS Murray K. Simpson Intellectual disability has long had, and indeed continues to have, an uneasy and inconsistent position in the nosology of mental illness. This situation has coupled with a generally under-problematized historical linkage between ‘intellectual disability’ and ‘idiocy’, resulting in a severely weakened understanding of the historical descent of the latter and the overstatement of its connection to the former. Hitherto, very little attention has been given to the significance of the conceptual

in Intellectual disability
A conceptual history 1200–1900

This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.

Abstract only
Intellectual disability in the Middle Ages

Using an interdisciplinary approach, including historical semantics, medicine, natural philosophy and law, the book considers a neglected field of social and medical history and makes an original contribution to the problem of a shifting concept such as 'idiocy'. The book considers the semantics of intellectual disability (ID) by looking at the words and labels used across time and place for conditions that might be subsumed by the umbrella-term 'intellectual disability' in modern Western society. The book discusses concepts of ID in medieval natural science, that is, anatomical and medical texts, now termed as the neurological foundations. Turning from the material aspects of neurology to the immateriality of psychology, it treats mind and soul in relation to ID. Discussing the theme of childishness, the book considers the legal position of persons with ID. The question of whether a legal case related to mental illness or ID is analysed. Thinking about legal agency returns to the themes of idiocy and infancy. The book then looks at the socio-cultural implications of ID through the lens of court fools, pets and entertainers. An overview of the link between court fools, idiots and social theories of dominance leads on to classical antiquity and the origin of 'fools', with the fully fledged medieval court fools noticeable and remarkable for 'foolish' behaviour rather than medicalised traits.

The idiot in law in the long eighteenth century

9 ‘BELIEF’, ‘OPINION’, AND ‘KNOWLEDGE’: THE IDIOT IN LAW IN THE LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY Simon Jarrett The Tudor formation of the powerful Court of Wards from 1540 had brought a more sharply formalized focus to what constituted incapacity, and what constituted idiocy, in English law, after the loose and sporadically used guidance of the medieval Prerogative Regis.1 This court, through to its demise in the 1640s, consolidated and shaped the conventions and practices of the legal treatment of those deemed incapacitated into a form that persisted through the

in Intellectual disability
Abstract only
The asylum travelogue and the shaping of ‘idiocy’

11 VISITING EARLSWOOD: THE ASYLUM TRAVELOGUE AND THE SHAPING OF ‘IDIOCY’ Patrick McDonagh In his 1860 A Visit to Earlswood, the Reverend Edwin Sidney opens with a description of landscape as seen from a rail car: The traveller by railway from London to Brighton is carried over a tract of country of great physical and moral interest. The picturesque undulations of the rising grounds on either side, belong to formations where once roamed many of the strange-looking creatures whose restored forms are seen in the garden of the Crystal Palace – itself the most

in Intellectual disability
Laws and intellectual disability

in the Western counterpart. The Hanafîs, Islamic law schools dating from the eighth century, distinguished ‘atâha , ‘idiocy’, from run-of-the-mill insanity. But this neat categorisation of mental incapacity was complicated by the fact that some Hanafîs equated the idiot with the madman in legal terms, while others considered idiots to be only semi- or partially insane. Where an idiot was deemed legally the same as a madman, the congenital idiot ( ma’tûh ) was remarkable only by the lessviolent behaviour, so that the term junûn referred to violent insanity, while

in Fools and idiots?
Natural science and intellectual disability

Idiocy, an important social phenomenon, merited little attention in the medical texts, since it was designated both by law and by medicine as a permanent, hereditary state which was, consequently, intractable. 1 Medical texts are relatively reticent when it comes to describing diagnoses, let alone advocating treatment, mainly of course for similar reasons as already encountered with regard to physical disability, connected with the permanence and incurability of ID, in that physicians tended to steer clear of

in Fools and idiots?
Abstract only
The emergent critical history of intellectual disability

1 INTRODUCTION: THE EMERGENT CRITICAL HISTORY OF INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY Patrick McDonagh, C. F. Goodey, and Tim Stainton In 1861, as the concept of ‘idiocy’, and authority over those designated ‘idiots’, was in the process of being transported into the medical sphere, the English physicians Martin Duncan and M. B. Lond lamented that ‘The terms used in the literature of idiocy complicate the first steps of practical inquiry greatly, and different writers, regardless of the necessity for unanimity, use the same words to describe various classes of idiots’.1 The

in Intellectual disability
Irish republican media activism since the Good Friday Agreement

Newspapers, magazines and pamphlets have always been central, almost sacred, forms of communication within Irish republican political culture. While social media is becoming the primary ideological battleground in many democracies, Irish republicanism steadfastly expresses itself in the traditional forms of activist journalism.

Shinners, Dissos and Dissenters is a long-term analysis of the development of Irish republican activist media since 1998 and the tumultuous years following the end of the Troubles. It is the first in-depth analysis of the newspapers, magazines and online spaces in which the differing strands of Irish republicanism developed and were articulated during a period where schism and dissent defined a return to violence.

Based on an analysis of Irish republican media outlets as well as interviews with the key activists that produced them, this book provides a compelling long-term snapshot of a political ideology in transition. It reveals how Irish Republicanism was moulded by the twin forces of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the violent internal ideological schism that threatened a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the Troubles.

This book is vital for those studying Irish politics and those interestedin activism as it provides new insights into the role that modern activist media forms have played in the ideological development of a 200-year-old political tradition.

Abstract only
Problems of definition and historiography

difficulties of uncovering narratives of ID in medieval sources. Since the medieval fool, for argument’s sake the approximate equivalent of the person with ID, often had lifelong mental limitations and hence no fluctuating changes from sanity to insanity, no recoverance of mental faculties, the fool and the madman might frequently be linked, 3 but the overarching interest of historians has been in the more glamorous acquired madness rather than folly or idiocy. Research is also hampered by lack of documentation, especially institutional records, pertaining to ID – unlike

in Fools and idiots?