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Irish Journal of Medical Science

, Volume 177, Issue 1, pp 79–84 | Cite as

Dr William Saunders Hallaran and psychiatric practice in nineteenth-century Ireland

  • B. D. Kelly
Literary and Historical

Abstract

Background

Dr William Saunders Hallaran wrote the first Irish textbook of psychiatry in 1810.

AimS

To explore the relevance of Dr Hallaran’s textbook: An Enquiry into the Causes producing the Extraordinary Addition to the Number of Insane together with Extended Observations on the Cure of Insanity with Hints as to the Better Management of Public Asylums for Insane Persons.

Methods

This paper uses Dr Hallaran’s textbook to explore dominant themes in nineteenth-century psychiatry.

Results

Dr Hallaran’s approach was characterized by (a) recognition of organic factors in aetiology; (b) concern about apparent increases in mental illness; (c) systematic engagement with causes, courses, outcomes; (d) reconsideration of traditional treatments (venesection, emetics, purgatives); (e) exploration of novel approaches (Dr Cox’s Circulating Swing); and (f) re-evaluation of traditional remedies (digitalis, opium, camphor, mercury) and physical treatments (shower baths, diet, exercise).

Conclusions

Many aspects of Dr Hallaran’s progressive approach to psychiatric care remain relevant today.

Keywords

History, 19th century Mental disorders Therapeutics Mental health services Psychiatric hospitals 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author is grateful for the comments of the anonymous peer-reviewers.

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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Adult Psychiatry, University College DublinMater Misericordiae University HospitalDublin 7Ireland

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