UCB Libraries





This is a bibliography of the materials included in the class display, additional materials that may be of interest, and the reference sources that were used in preparing the class presentation. Items that were on display are starred. Call numbers refer to Special Collections holdings unless otherwise indicated.


Old Age, Senile Dementia, and Madness

The Ancient World

John L. Foster: Ancient Egyptian Literature, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001; Norlin PJ1943 A53 2001

Includes the Prologue to the Maxims of Ptahhotep, written circa 2380-2342 BCE.  Ptahhotep, vizier to Pharaoh Izezi, describes the effects of old age: “The mind is gone and cannot picture yesterday...”



Xenophon, Apology.  A translation is available in the Norlin stacks, PA4495.A4 M33 2008

In this record of the trial of Socrates, Xenophon reports that Socrates states that death is preferable to old age and senility.  This does not occur in Plato’s version.



Plato, Symposium.  A translations is available in the Norlin stacks, B358.A5 R62 1998

In this record of a party at which each participant has to give a speech in honor of Eros, the god of erotic love, Agathon speaks of Eros shunning senility and clinging to youth.



*Aristotle, Introductio Physica, Lyon: Simon Vincentii, 1541; PA3895 A44 1541 

Aristotle, like most others of his time, equates old age with senility, basing his belief in the theory of the humors.  In a young, healthy body, the four humors are balanced, but with age, the body slowly loses moisture, and with it, mental agility.  He explains that physiology and climate will affect this deterioration; someone with a large, hooked nose will lose more moisture than someone with a small snub nose, and people in dry climates will lose intellectual capabilities faster than people in humid environs.  Dryness was associated with yellow and black bile; yellow bile caused mania, while black bile caused melancholy.  While the Greeks made a distinction between these types of madness, some later cultures lumped them together.  Aristotle placed the seat of intelligence in the abdomen, a view which endured into the late Middle Ages.



*Brian Inglis, A History of Medicine, Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1965, Science  R131 .I55 c.2

Includes a chart of the four humors and illustrations of the traits of people dominated by each of them.



*Cicero, Lyon: Sumptibus Sybillae à Porta, 1588; PA6278 A2 1588

Cicero’s work De Senectute refutes the prevailing view of old age; he argues that many people retain their mental facilities, and notes that regular intellectual exercise seems to contribute to mental agility in later years.  He makes complete sense, and was soundly ignored.



Medieval and Early Modern Europe

*Theatrum Chemicum, Strasbourg: Eberhard Zetzneri, 1698; QD25 T4


An anthology of alchemy texts including an excerpt from a work by the 13th century Franciscan friar Roger Bacon , who at the age of 80 wrote a treatise on the “Care of Old Age and the Preservation of Youth.”  He agreed that senility was due to the body drying out, but seems to be the first person to argue that the drying process could be slowed.


*Giacinto Grimaldi, Dell’Alchemia, Palermo: Alfonso dell’Isola, 1645; QD25 G75


Another alchemical treatise, in which Doctor Grimaldi defends the practice of alchemy and the use of various concoctions in preserving and improving health.


Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales [Ellesmere Chaucer facsimile], San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1995; OS2 PR1866 W762 1995

In the prologue to his Tale, the reeve describes the effects of old age:
The sely tongue may wel rynge and chymbe
Of wrecchednesse that passed is ful yoore;
With old folk, save dotage, is namoore!

[The silly tongue may well ring and chime
Of wretchedness that is fully passed;
With old folk, save dotage, there is nothing more!]



Albrecht Dürer, Complete Engravings,  West Germany: Berghaus Verlag, 1987; Art and Architecture NE654 D9 M5313 1987

Includes Melancholia, one of Durer’s most famous illustrations, in which he depicts the effects of melancholy, thought to be caused by an excess of black bile. The image is also available via Wikimedia Commons.



William Shakespeare, The Complete Works [fourth folio], London : Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685; Plume Oversize PR 2751 A4 

Several of Shakespeare’s plays either discuss or depict the effects of old age and madness, notably in King Lear, Hamlet, and in the famous speech from

As You Like It:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages…
                                                   Last scene of all,
That ends this strange and eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans [without] teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.



*Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, London: Benjamin Motte, 1726;  PR3724 G7 1726 v.2

In his third voyage, Gulliver travels to the land of the Struldbrugs of Luggnagg, who are immortal.  When he first hears of them, Gulliver imagines how he would take advantage of immortality to constantly gain in knowledge, but he learns that by their eightieth year, they have become senile, and the rest of their existence is comprised of constant deterioration.



Jonathan Swift, Correspondence, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965; Nor PR3726 A4 1963 v.1-5

Swift himself developed dementia a decade after he finished writing Gulliver’s Travels. He wrote to a friend, “I have entirely lost my memory…and I despair of any cure.” 




Syphilis and Neurosyphilis

*Albrecht Dürer, Samtliche Holzschnitte [Complete Woodcuts], Berlin: Dt. Buch-Gemeinschaft, 1938; OS2 NE1205 D9 A2

Plate 92, "Syphilitic Man," is the earliest known depiction of the effects of syphilis on the body.



William Clowes, A Brief and Necessary Treatise, Tovching the Cure of the Disease Now Vsually called Lves Venerea, London: Edmund Bollifant, 1596 (facsimile printed New York: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1945)

An early English work on treating syphilis.



John Hunter, A Treatise on Venereal Disease, Philadelphia: J. Webster, 1818; RC204 H92. First published in 1786. 

Hunter was considered to be the authority on sexually transmitted infections for over 100 years.  He intentionally innoculated himself with syphilis to support his studies, but used a needle that was contaminated with gonnorhea; when he developed both diseases, he claimed it was proof of his theory that they were caused by a single pathogen.



*George Wood and Franklin Bache, United States Dispensatory, Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co; 1854; RS151.2 D5 Ed. 10

The dispensatory includes a long discussion on the uses of mercury, the dominant syphilis treatment until the twentieth century, and also has directions for mercury-based formulas.



*Guy de Maupassant, Works, New York: P. F. Collier, [c1911].  PQ2349.A4 E5 1911 v.1-10

Author Maupassant was thrilled to discover that he was infected with syphilis, as the disease was widely considered to be beneficial to the imagination.  Indeed, a survey of his short stories shows his mental state becoming increasingly erratic.  Eventually he became convinced that he had flies in his brain, and attempted suicide.  He was then institutionalized until his death.



*Sarah Grand, The Heavenly Twins, New York: Cassell Publishing Co.; PASCAL 813.49 G762h (first U.S. edition); also Norlin PR6013.R272 H4 1992. First published in 1892.

This is one of several “New Woman” novels which deal with late Victorian-era women’s fears of contracting syphilis from their husbands.



*Arthur Conan Doyle, Round the Red Lamp: Being Facts and Fancies of Medical Life, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1923; Norlin PR4622 R68 1923. First published in 1894.

In The Third Generation, physician Conan Doyle addresses the fear that syphilis was, not just a contagious disease, but a hereditary one.  The central character of the story is a young man about to be married when he finds he has syphilis, which was passed down to him from his grandfather, a notorious rake.  The title refers to Exodus 20:5, “I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation.”  The hero, not wanting to shame his bride by cancelling the wedding, nor willing to further spread the disease, commits suicide. 



*Ellis Ethelmer, The Contagious Diseases Acts: A Warning.  Published in The Westminster Review, Vol. CXLVII. No. 5, May 1897.  PASCAL  AP4 .W5  v.147 ja-je 1897  

Ethelmer condemns the laws of 1864 and 1866 as putting a burden on prostitutes, when the blame for the spread of syphilis belonged on the heads of the men who frequented them, describing the use of prostitutes as “the continuous subjugation of a slave class of women to the untempered sensuality of vicious men.”



*Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (translated by Ralph Mannheim), Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971; DD247 H5 A322 1971
*Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Munich: F. Eher Nachf., 1934; Plume DD247 H5 A3 1934x v.1

Hitler devotes thirteen pages of his book to his fears that Jews are spreading syphilis as a way of destroying German society.



*Paul de Kruif, Men Against Death, New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1932; Science R134 D4 1932

Includes a chapter on Julius Wagner-Jauregg, the only psychiatrist to win a Nobel Prize.  After observing the beneficial effects of fever upon mental patients, he innoculated nine tertiary-stage syphilis patients with malaria.  Six of them experienced some amount of recovery, with three able to return to their work.  It was the first time any physical treatment was proven to have any effect on mental illness. 





*Joseph Glanvil, Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions, London: S.L., 1689;  BF1565 G58 1689

Glanvil’s treatise is an argument against those who claim that witchcraft does not exist.  He discusses the ability of witches to cause madness in their victims.



Kramer, Heinrich, and Jacobus Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum.  Several translations available in Norlin stacks, BF1569.A2 I5.  First published in 1487. 

This work by two monks was used by many Inquisitors in the early witch hunts.  It varies greatly from Glanvil’s work, due partly to changing conceptions of witchcraft and partly due to cultural differences in the English and German conceptions of witchcraft.  Kramer and Sprenger do not mention madness in their work.



Many more early printed books on witchcraft are available via Early English Books Online.




*James Breasted, Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus: Published in Facsimile and Hieroglyphic Transliteration and Commentary in Two Volumes, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930; PASCAL PJ1681 .S6 1930  v.1-2 

This medical papyrus was copied in the 17th century BCE; the original text was written in the Pyramid Age, 3000-2500 BCE.  It is the oldest surviving text to mention the brain, and discusses the impact of brain damage on the rest of the body.



*Thomas Willis, Opera Omnia, Lyon, Joannis Antonii Hugetan et Soe., 1681; 96-3-217 v.1-2

Willis, the personal physician of Charles II, wrote a detailed work on the anatomy of the brain.



*Hermannus Boerhaave, Elementum Chemiae, Venice: Sebastianum Coleti, 1749; 96-3-197 v.1-2

Boerhaave, a professor of medicine at the University of Leiden, is considered one of the early Enlightenment minds to deal with..   His work dissecting the cadavers of people with dementia seemed to confirm the humoric theories; he found the brains “small and hard” as though they had dried up. 



*Robert Hooke, Micrographia, London : Printed by J. Martyn and J. Allestry, 1665 ; Plume QH271 H79

Hooke’s book was the first to illustrate things too small to see with the naked eye.  His work sparked new curiosity in microscopic organisms. 



*Culpeper-type microscope, circa 1750; designed in the mid-late 1600’s


*Denis Diderot, Encylopedie, Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand, 1753; OS1 AE25 E52 t.3
*Denis Diderot, Recueil de Planches, Paris: Cercle du Livre Precieux, 1965 (facsimile of plates); OS1 AE25 E52 Plates t.2 1964

Diderot’s illustrations of surgery include trepanning, drilling a hole in the skull; in his time, it was primarily done to relieve pressure on the brain following head trauma.



*Roy Porter, editor, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996

Includes a painting of Philippe Pinel freeing the enchained inmates of a Parisian asylum around the time of the French Revolution.  Pinel argued that mental illnesses were caused by passions; as such, they were treatable and possibly curable, given appropriate conditions and environment. 



*Causes of Dementia, according to Esquirol

Esquirol, Pinel’s student, continued his teacher’s work in bringing better living conditions to people with mental illnesses living in institutions.  He wrote extensively on dementia, and included this list of causes in one of his works:

Menstrual Disorders
Sequelae of Delivery
Head Injuries
Progression of Age
Ataxic Fever
Hemorrhoid Surgery
Mania and Monomania
Mercury Abuse
Dietary Excesses
Wine Abuse
Unhappy Love
Political Upheavals
Unfulfilled Ambitions
Domestic Problems
[List from Boller and Forbes, cited below]



*Emil Kraepelin, Psychiatrie, Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1899; PASCAL 131 K85 bd. 1-2

Kraepelin, the director of an insane asylum, was deeply interested in drawing new distinctions in types of mental illness.  He kept detailed notes on each patient, which he continuously reviewed for new insights.  This textbook includes the illness “Hysterical Clownism.”



*Alois Alzheimer, Uber Eine eigenartige Erkrankung der Hirnrinde. Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und Psychisch-Gerichtliche Medizin, 1907; 64:146–148.  Available via inter-library loan.


Alzheimer was the physician for a woman suffering from severe dementia; what caught his particular attention was that she was in her forties, very young to be so afflicted. When she died in 1906, he conducted an autopsy, in which he found severe plaque buildup, and using silver stain was also able to discover neurological tangles.



*Emil Kraepelin, Psychiatrie, Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1910;  131 K85a


This edition of Kraepelin’s textbook, printed only three years after Alzheimer’s groundbreaking publication, distinguishes between arteriosclerotic insanity and other insanity, based on just five cases.  It is thought that part of the urgency to acknowledge the physical basis of some dementias was due to a rivalry with Sigmund Freud, who argued that mental illnesses were cognitively based.



Emil Kraepelin, Dementia Praecox and Paraphrenia Together with Manic-Depressive Insanity and Paranoia, Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingtone, 1919 (facsimile Birmingham: Classics of Medicine Library, 1989)  Sci RC514 K7 1989

Discussions of dementia praecox (roughly the same as our conception of schizophrenia) were one of the first instances in which it was acknowledged that some people ‘went mad’ in their teens or early twenties, rather than with old age.



*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Second Edition), Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1968; Sci RC455 A46 1968 c.2

This standard reference work for psychiatrists, printed in 1968, still divides dementias simply into senile and pre-senile.



*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition, Textual Revision), entries on physically-caused dementias.  Available online via library subscription.

The manual was later changed to include several neurodegenerative diseases, and still includes “Other Vascular Dementias” as a category.



Art and Architecture

*Peter Granser, Alzheimer, Heidelberg : Kehrer, 2005; DHT 9982

William Hogarth, A Harlot’s Progress, included in Works of Hogarth,  London: G. Woodfall, [1835-1837?];  OS2 ND497 H7 N66

*Edward Keyes, Syphilis: A Treatise for Practitioners, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1908;  Scuba IV 1025

Joanne Leonard, Being in Pictures: An Intimate Photo Memoir, Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 2008; DHT 11522

Donald McKay, Sanctuary : a Care Centre for Patients with Alzheimer's Disease, Waterloo, Ont.: University of Waterloo Press, 1988; Art and Architecture RA967 .M39 1988

*Mutter Museum: Historic Medical Photographs, New York: Blast Books, 2007; DHT 11212


Further Readings

Most of the information provided above was drawn from these sources

Albert, Martin L., and Bracha Moldworf, The Concept of Dementia, Journal of Neurolinguistics, 4:3/4, 301-308.  Available via library database.

Berchtold, N.C., and C. W. Cotman, Evolution in the Conceptualization of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: Greco-Roman Period to the 1960s, Neurobiology of Aging, 19:3, 173-189.  Available via library database.

Boller, Francois, and Margaret M. Forbes, “History of Dementia and Dementia in History: An Overview,“ in Journal of Neurological Sciences, 158 (1998) 125-133.  Available via library database

Eisler, Colin, Who is Durer’s “Syphilitic Man“?,  Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 52:1, 48-61.  Available via library database.

Holstein, Martha, Alzheimer’s Disease and Senile Dementia, 1885-1920: An Interpretive History of Disease Negotiation, Journal of Aging Studies, 11:1, 1-13.  Available via library database.

Kaplan, Robert M., Syphilis, Sex, and Psychiatry, 1789-1925, Australasian Psychiatry, 18:1, February 2010 [unpaginated].  Available via library database.

Liggins, Emma, “Writing Against the ‘Husband-Fiend‘: Syphilis and Male Sexual Vice in the New Woman Novel,“ in Women’s Writing, 7:2, 175-195.  Available via library databases


Losoff, Barbara, and Caroline Sinkinson, Microbial Genetics and Physiology bibliography, available online.

MacDonald, Michael, Women and Madness in Tudor and Stuart England, Social Research,  1986, 53:2, 261-281.  Available via library database.

McGough, Laura J., Demons, Nature, or God?  Witchcraft Accusations and the French Disease in Early Modern Venice, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 80:2, 219-237. Available via library database.

Schoeneman, Thomas J. The Mentally Ill Witch in Textbooks of Abnormal Psychology: Current Status and Implications of a Fallacy, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 15:3 299-314.  Available via library database.