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Views & Reviews Medical classics

A Treatise on Madness

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 23 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:403
  1. John Beard, foundation year 2, University Hospital Birmingham
  1. johnbeard{at}

    William Battie (1703-76) was one of the most eminent psychiatrists of 18th century Britain. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Battie was a fellow of the Royal Society and a fellow and later president of the Royal College of Physicians. He was reputed both for his scholarly work (including an edition of Aristotle's Rhetoric) and his anatomical demonstrations. Yet it was the “mad business,” as he described it, that really caught his imagination. Already a governor at Bethlem Hospital and owner of two other private institutions, Battie was the founding physician …

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