Book cover of Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity by Theodore M. Porterby Theodore M. Porter

The untold story of how hereditary data in mental hospitals gave rise to the science of human heredity

In the early 1800s, a century before there was any concept of the gene, physicians in insane asylums began to record causes of madness in their admission books. Almost from the beginning, they pointed to heredity as the most important of these causes. As doctors and state officials steadily lost faith in the capacity of asylum care to stem the terrible increase of insanity, they began emphasizing the need to curb the reproduction of the insane. They became obsessed with identifying weak or tainted families and anticipating the outcomes of their marriages. Genetics in the Madhouse is the untold story of how the collection and sorting of hereditary data in mental hospitals, schools for “feebleminded” children, and prisons gave rise to a new science of human heredity.

Interview with the Author

Podcast Art for the New Book NetworkNew Books Network 
Theodore M. Porter, “Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity” (Princeton UP, 2018)
10/11/18             55 min

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.