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Observations placeholder

Vicar Andresen goes mad



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


Poor man.......

A description of the experience

Dan Medicinhist Arbog. 2003:13-27. [My insanity in the year 1783]. [Article in Danish]  Rasmussen S.

The aim of this paper is twofold: to defend the validity of the manic-depressive psychosis as a disease entity and to make an incursion into the history of psychiatry.

The two intentions meet as far as the recognition of a clinical case straight through space and time supports the ontological status of a disease entity.

An autobiographical work from 1801 "My insanity in the year 1783" written by the Danish vicar C.S. Andresen, who lived from 1760 to 1832 is briefly summed up.

Andresen tells that he as a young student of divinity made a journey from the small town Rørvig in Zeeland to his then place in Copenhagen.

The weather was intolerably hot, the coach was uncomfortable, the landscape deserted and empty-and just in the hardships the most unhappy and deplorable event happened: He faced the gruesome truth that he was deprived of the most precious gift of his Creator, his reason and faculties.

A fellow passenger brought him to an inn where he literally ran up the walls alternately in high spirits and in deep dispair.

When he arrived in Copenhagen he was bled, probably by a surgeon, but later that day admitted to King Frederik's Hospital where he was treated with bleeds and leeches and baths.

However, as the illness dragged on he was according to his own will accompanied by his custodian to his parental home in the Isle of Bornholm where he recovered while nursed by his mother and mother's mother who themselves had suffered from periodical melancholy when they were young.

He completed his academic studies and became a highly respected scholar and vicar in the isle of Funen - but almost twenty years after his recovery he was made to suffer the humiliation that he - a true representative of the Age of Enlightment and rationalistic theologician - was suspected to have invoted his insanity by a sinful life in his youth. Thus his work may be regarded as a defensive pamphlet written at a time when a neutral and clinical view of mental diseases had given place to a moralistic and religious concept.

The case serves as a modification of the general assumption that psychotic patients in "the classic age of confinement" under all circumstances were brutally treated and locked up.

Even the fluent and subjective style is charming and reminds the Danes of Johannes Ewald (1743-81) and perhaps - were it to be translated - the English of Lawrence Sterne (1713-68). Maybe the booklet of just 75 pages is worthy of a translation?

PMID: 14765524

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps