Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Julius chambers

    Excerpt from book: Having seen so many fools in all stations of life, you are naturally led to believe that it is the easiest thing imaginable to systematically play the unmethodical madman. In this, however, your judgment deceives you, for you will encounter much study and many difficulties. And here a word of kindly advice, cruelly given, perhaps, to ambitious young actors. If you are a sentimentalist, with a weak mind, ask your manager to " underline " you for some other part. The leading one throughout this play is a dangerous experiment, unless you have the utmost command of all the faculties you possess by nature. You decline to be warned ? You would know how to judiciously and thoroughly master your part ? Listen! There are before you at least two weeks of desperate study. Begin with a careful reading of the most elaborate treatise upon the general subject of mental disease. If you have never " crammed " for a college examination, you will find it hard work to study earnestly, even violently, an uninteresting subject. The first three or four days, groping among medical terms, will be found dreary enough. Then go into a hasty perusal of the entire range of medico-legal and general literature bearing upon Insanity. Hunt out every horror. Keep BucknuTs valuable work constantly at hand; it is a wonderful book for your purpose. From it you will get all the prosaically described symptoms, which you mustafterwards galvanize into living, moving action. There, too, if I mistake not, are the tests for feigned madness as applied to criminal law : these yon must thoroughly memorize in order to be prepared for the " experts in lunacy." You need fear nothing original; stick to your memory and defy surprises.
     Julius chambers having himself committed with the help of some of his friends and the city editor. His intent was to obtain information about alleged abuse of inmates.After ten days, his collaborators on the project had him released.When articles and accounts of the experience were published in the Tribune, it led to the release of twelve patients who were not mentally ill, a reorganization of the staff and administration of the institution and, eventually, to a change in the lunacy laws. This later led to the publication of the book A Mad World and Its People(1876).          

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