THE ROYAL MALADY by Charles Chenevix Trench


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This is a punctiliously precise account of George III's attack of insanity in 1788-1789 based primarily on two of the private diaries of his physicians, Sir George Baker and then Dr. John Willis, material which has been largely neglected. Since actually nothing was known about mental illness at this time, its origin, manifestations or treatments, even though Dr. Willis had had some success in handling it, one finds that the royal malady was (mis)diagnosed as anything from gout to ""water on the brain."" George III's was a manic depressive psychosis which had had an earlier incidence and would later recur. The illness itself which is charted through daily bulletins on his health is really less important in its effect on the monarch than on the political scene; the book too gains in value in reflecting the reversionary politics of the time, the constant tug of war between Messrs. Fox and Pitt, and the ""political climacteric"" which ""gave a fortuitous, decisive twist to the development of the English constitution."" ..... Not a book for the general reader but one which will serve history as a purge of misconceptions which have long attended this king and his reign.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World