Presenter Information

Elizabeth TretterFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Major

English Literature

Minor

Legal Studies

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Staci Stone; Dr. Kevin Binfield

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Victor’s Dual Diagnosis: An Exploration of Mental Illness in Frankensteinian Times

Before the advances of modern psychology, treatment of the mentally insane consisted of cruel and torturous methods that involved beating, starving, or bleeding patients often until the point of death. It was not until the late eighteenth century that a revolutionary kind of moral treatment was introduced by William Tuke, an English Quaker and founder of The Friends’ Retreat. Founded in 1879, the small retreat in York set the precedent for future asylums with their meticulous record keeping that included their own standardized diagnoses and symptoms of mental illnesses. Linking the York Retreat’s diagnoses to the modern ones bridges the gap between the early nineteenth century and current understandings of mental illness, which can be used to better understand Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831). After creating the creature, Victor Frankenstein’s subsequent actions produce a gap in understanding between him and the readers, leaving them unable to fully sympathize with him in his misfortunes. However, this gap can be remedied by the application both a contemporary nineteenth-century diagnosis from the York Retreat and a modern diagnosis to Victor’s character. By applying a psychological approach to the novel, Victor’s dual diagnosis of monomania and antisocial personality disorder bridges the historical gap between the early nineteenth century and modern society’s perception of insanity, while the attribution of these two diagnoses can enable the audience to sympathize with Victor.

Fall Scholars Week 2018 Event

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Victor’s Dual Diagnosis: An Exploration of Mental Illness in Frankensteinian Times

Victor’s Dual Diagnosis: An Exploration of Mental Illness in Frankensteinian Times

Before the advances of modern psychology, treatment of the mentally insane consisted of cruel and torturous methods that involved beating, starving, or bleeding patients often until the point of death. It was not until the late eighteenth century that a revolutionary kind of moral treatment was introduced by William Tuke, an English Quaker and founder of The Friends’ Retreat. Founded in 1879, the small retreat in York set the precedent for future asylums with their meticulous record keeping that included their own standardized diagnoses and symptoms of mental illnesses. Linking the York Retreat’s diagnoses to the modern ones bridges the gap between the early nineteenth century and current understandings of mental illness, which can be used to better understand Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831). After creating the creature, Victor Frankenstein’s subsequent actions produce a gap in understanding between him and the readers, leaving them unable to fully sympathize with him in his misfortunes. However, this gap can be remedied by the application both a contemporary nineteenth-century diagnosis from the York Retreat and a modern diagnosis to Victor’s character. By applying a psychological approach to the novel, Victor’s dual diagnosis of monomania and antisocial personality disorder bridges the historical gap between the early nineteenth century and modern society’s perception of insanity, while the attribution of these two diagnoses can enable the audience to sympathize with Victor.

 

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