Note: chronological periods are indicated as follows: L16 = late sixteenth century.

1. Roman World. Lunacy. Lat. Luna = moon; moonstruck [poet, lover]. Roman beliefs included influence of moon on mental derangement. See Brewer's, SOED.

2. Old English. Madness. A broad concept, variously from Old English, gemad = insane; Old Saxon, gimed = foolish; Old High German, gemeit = vain, foolish, boastful. By M16-L16, SOED gives mad folly, great foolishness. "Master in lunacy" was a legal officer, concerned with definitions & legality of incarceration. Roget (3) offers "Devil to pay," "hell broke loose," "all the fat in the fire," "pretty kettle of fish" and other synonyms.

3. 1407 A.D. Bedlam. Shortened form of Royal Bethlem Hospital, London; a Priory since 1247, then an institution for the insane - "madhouse," "wild uproar," "a bedlam". By 1815, the hospital had moved to Lambeth, London. By 1852 synonyms included: madman, lunatic, bedlamite; dreamer, rhapsodist, enthusiast; fanatic, idiot, knight errant; mash, mess, muddle; tangled skein, knot, Babel, ferment, turmoil. Mad-doctor: Lat. insanus, a specialist carer of the insane, the mad.

4. L16. Insanity: Lat. insanitas = mental derangement; M19, extreme folly, irrational.

5. L18. Alienisms, Alienist. Pre-psychiatric terms, now obsolete. From Lat. alienus = different, foreign, beyond society. Those previously known as "mad-doctors" become "alienists."

6. M19. Psychiatry. Formal medico-psychological term for appropriate care, understanding, diagnosis. L19, Psychiatrist (2). From Gr. Psyche + iatros.

7. M19. Psychopathology, psychopathologist. Used in reference to clinicians and their clinical focus, e.g., Charcot at Paris in 1872; Breuer at Vienna in 1880; Freud at Vienna in 1886.

8. Historical. Childhood mental disorder: often used together with rarer underlying feeblemindedness [‘the village idiot’] and/or other biological handicaps or disfigurement; often with prejudicial economic/social rulings, incarcerations, semi-legal dictates, as opposed to informed medical-psychological assessment and care. Exceptions at individual levels; spiritual houses, priories; 19th-cent., early pedagogy.

9. E20. Child psychopathology: formal and directed study of childhood mental disorders; supported by credible psychological models/theory, beyond lay care and observation.

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Created 31 July 2016

Last modified 15 February 2022