Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Classifying a manic-depressive illness: Diagnosis, treatment, and representations of high and low mood states, 1830-1902

Knighton, Cerys 2022. Classifying a manic-depressive illness: Diagnosis, treatment, and representations of high and low mood states, 1830-1902. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of CERYSK~1.PDF]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (13MB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form] PDF (Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (121kB) | Request a copy


This thesis examines medical and cultural constructions of severe high and low mood states to seek the conception of an inherently manic-depressive illness. Studies in the history of bipolar disorder have tended to look to categories that combined mania and melancholia, viewing these terms according to present mania and depression: as opposite poles on the emotional spectrum. However, by using a methodological approach that sees current diagnostic frameworks as still in motion instead of final, and remaining historically grounded by focusing on how diagnosis happens while prioritising patient case records from working institutions, this thesis uncovers a different finding. Instead of representing solely high mood, the greater specificity developed for nineteenth-century mania alongside the professionalisation of psychiatric practice was characterised by both high and low emotional states, including alternating mood, periods of lucidity, and features of psychosis traced by emotional themes. The classification of nineteenth-century mania as an inherently manic-depressive illness is my primary argument. Furthermore, this thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach, concurrently examining medical writing and literary texts to seek the classification and representation of a manic-depressive illness in different places and for different groups. The fluidity of exchange between nineteenth-century medical and literary writing makes an analysis of literary representations valuable for investigating mania’s medical and cultural identity. The narrative style of patient case records, threading together the perspective of the patient, their relatives and friends, and the physician, can be examined to investigate whether literary texts similarly represented the symptoms and behaviours recorded in mania. Literary analysis can also investigate how these consistently recorded features were used to either normalise or challenge medical authority, types of treatment, care according to place and gender, the pathologizing of emotion in the context of different cultural beliefs, and social inclusion or exclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Funders: AHRC via South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 January 2023
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 15:48

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics