Humans are complicated creatures, and during the nineteenth century, science began an exploration into the secrets behind the mind. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “psychology” as ‘The scientific study of the nature, functioning, and development of the human mind, including the faculties of reason, emotion, perception, communication, etc.’ Psychology and psychiatry both involve studying mental illness, while psychiatry also involves the medical pathology in treating mental illness. Nineteenth-century psychiatry struggled for ‘professional legitimacy against surgeons and medical doctors’ while simultaneously dealing with popular beliefs. Multiple discourse surrounding Victorian mental illness illustrates the mutability of the phenomena. This chapter will discuss the tropes within Victorian psychology along with the public discourse about mental illness. This chapter will end with a brief examination of two manifestations – hysteria and multiplex personality.
In the science community, diagnoses and treatment of disorders of the mind are explored in the field of psychology. Roger Smith discusses this psychology in periodical literature, stating that ‘Victorian language linking mind and body was awkward, opaque, and unsettled.’ Psychology was still brand new to the world in the nineteenth century and it was not fully understood; however, there was great interest in the mechanics of the brain. This was evident in the periodicals, which ‘detailed the intimate mutual