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Enlightening EnthusiasmProphecy and religious experience in early eighteenth-century England$
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Lionel Laborie

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089886

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089886.001.0001

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Medicalising enthusiasm

Medicalising enthusiasm

(p.204) 6 Medicalising enthusiasm
Enlightening Enthusiasm

Lionel Laborie

Manchester University Press

Chapter 6 explores the medical debate on the nature and causes of religious enthusiasm that emerged with the scientific revolution. As Anglican ministers and divines increasingly resorted to a medical terminology to describe the physical manifestations of enthusiasm over the seventeenth century, physicians only began to address this issue around 1700 with the emergence of a ‘trade in lunacy’. This chapter therefore analyses the medicalisation of enthusiasm into a religious madness in the first half of the eighteenth century. It argues that the French Prophets stood at the heart of this debate, not only because of their bodily agitations, but also because of the presence of physicians among their followers. It demonstrates overall that madness was understood as a disease of the body, rather than one of the mind.

Keywords:   Medicine, Madness, Body and soul, Imagination, Passions, Melancholy, Mania, Quacks, Asylums, madhouses and hospitals

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