Psychiatry for the General Practitioner: Isaac Ray’s Jefferson Lectures, 1871 to 1873


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Abstract

In late 19th century, psychiatry developed a seriousness of purpose beyond the mere isolation of people who were insane. Beginning in Europe and spreading to America, medical schools began to prepare students for the identification and natural history of mental illnesses. Among the pioneers in education was Dr Isaac Ray, who delivered a lecture course at Jefferson Medical College between 1871 and 1873. His remarks assumed that general practitioners would encounter patients with a range of behaviors representing both normal variations and actual insanity. Ray also assumed that physicians would be called into legal matters ranging from wills to murders. He endorsed a variety of therapeutic interventions while distancing himself from a famous Philadelphian, Dr Benjamin Rush.

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