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Classics in Psychology

Robert H. Wozniak - Bryn Mawr College

Henry Maudsley: Body and Mind (1870)


The problem of the relationship of mind to body and body to mind has a long and distinguished history in
philosophy and psychology. First formulated by Descartes in 1641, in his Meditationes de prima philosophia,
61
the mind/body problem bedeviled 17th and 18th century thinkers from Spinoza and Leibniz to La Mettrie
and Cabanis. 62
During the 19th century, one aspect of this problem, 63 that of the relationship between mind and brain, grew
especially pressing. Interest in mind/brain relations during this period became so great that it is difficult to find
a systematic text written after 1870 that does not contain a discussion of this issue. To a large extent, this
reflected the convergence of two major developments: progress in understanding the localization of cerebral
function and growing familiarity with the facts of functional neurosis. Evidence for cortical localization of
functioncorrelation between specific mental processes and discrete regions of the brainsuggested a clear
dependence of mind on brain process. 64 Data on functional neurosesradical alterations in the body brought
about by psychic trauma, mental suggestion, mesmeric trance and the like suggested a clear dependence
of brain process on the mind. 65
In response to these developments, a variety of mind/body views were espoused. These included
interactionism (brain influences mind, mind influences brain), 66 epiphenomenalism (brain influ-ences mind,
but mind exerts no influence on brain), 67 psychophysical parallelism (neither mind nor brain influences the
other, but mind and brain run a parallel course), 68 dual-aspect theory (mind and brain are simply two different
aspects of one and the same psychophysical process), 69 and idealist monism (what appears, like brain, to be
material substance is only a property of mind). 70
Several authors even devoted entire volumes to the topic of mind and body. One of these, Henry Maudsley, 71
championed a mind/body view that might best be called materialist function-alism, a view that is probably still
the predominant position among modern psychologists and psychiatrists. The essence of this perspective is
an unwavering belief in the functional depen-dence of mind on body and brain. Mind is, in essence, a product
of bodily and brain process. A healthy mind depends on a healthy brain in a healthy body. Disorders of body
and brain will be reflected in disorders of mind.
Maudsleys defence of this thesis, Body and Mind, was published in 1870. 72 It consisted primarily of the three
Gulstonian lectures that he had given earlier that year before the Royal College of Physicians. 73 In the first
lecture, Maudsley began by reiterating two points fundamental to his perspective. First, physiology and
pathology of mind are two branches of one science. Study of the healthy mind helps to clarify the nature of
morbid phenomena and vice versa. Second, mind is a function of the nervous system; nervous disorder
underlies mental disorder. He then devoted the remainder of this lecture to an analysis of the physiology of
normal mind defined not only in terms of higher mental functions such as intelligence, will, and emotion but
also in terms of lower sensorimotor automatisms, the relationship between higher and lower functions, and
the relationship between these mental functions and internal organs such as the heart, liver, and genitals.
In the second and third lectures, Maudsley described aspects of mental pathology designed to illustrate the
dependence of insanity on physical causes to be found in morbid states of the body. Here he argued that
mental disorders are neither more nor less than nervous diseases in which mental symptoms predominate,
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emphasized hereditary constitutional factors (the insane temperament 75 ) in predisposing to disorder, and
provided a lengthy analysis of the particular effects of various internal organs (organic sympathies 76 ) on the
specific characteristics of different forms of insanity.
If there was one major point that emerged from the three lectures taken as a whole, it was a view of mind not
as a single function but as a federation of functions dependent not only upon processes at different levels of
nervous organization but even upon internal organs. Correlative to this view was a conception of insanity as
multiply determined, caused not only by degeneration of higher nervous processes, but by disorders of lower
nervous function and even by morbid conditions of the internal organs. For Maudsley, in short, the body was
an organic whole and healthy mental process was dependent upon the proper functioning of that totality. In

clearly and persuasively articu- lating this view and emphasizing the relevance of pathological phenomena for
an understanding of normal mind and the relevance of normal phenomena for an understanding of pathology,
Maudsley placed himself among the earliest propo-nents of what eventually came to called the
psychosomatic perspective.
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Des-Cartes, R. (1641). Meditationes de prima philosophiae, in qua Deiexistentia et animae immo talitas
demonstratur. Paris: Michaelem Soly.
62

Spinoza, B. (1677). Opera posthuma, quorum series post praefationem exhibetur. Amsterdam: J. Rieuwert;
Leibniz, G.W. (1695). Systme nouveau de la nature et de la communication des substances, aussi bien que
de lunion quil y a entre lme et le corps. Journal des Savans, 27 Juin, 294300; et 4 Juillet, 3016; La
Mettrie, J. O. de. (1748). LHomme machine. Leyde: Elie Luzac, Fils; and Cabanis, P.J.G. (1802). Rapports
du physique et du moral de lhomme. Paris: Crapart, Caille et Ravier.
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Note that there are really two related but distinguishable aspects of the mind/body problem, one, which has
been the traditional subject matter of epistemology, has to do with the relationship between mind and the
external bodies of the material world, between thoughts and things; the second, which is the aspect under
discussion here, has to do with the relationship between mind and brain as a material substance.
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See, for example, Broca, P.P. (1861). Remarques sur le sige de la facult du langage articul, suivies
dune observation daphmie (perte de la parole). Bulletins de la socit anatomique de Paris, anne 36,
2me serie, tome 6, 33057.
65

See, for example, the work of Jean-Martin Charcot His research and that of his students, published over a
number of years, was summarized in: Charcot, J-M. (187273). Leons sur les maladies du systme nerveux
faites la Salptrire. Paris: Adrien Delahaye.
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Carpenter, W.B. (1874). Principles of Mental Physiology, with their Applications to the Training and
Discipline of the Mind, and the Study of Its Morbid Conditions. London: Henry S. King; for a discussion of
Carpenters interactionism, see the essay on Carpenter in this volume.
67

Hodgson, S.H. (1870). The Theory of Practice. An Ethical Enquiry in Two Books. London: Longmans,
Green, Reader, and Dyer.
68

Bain, A. (1855). The Senses and the Intellect. London: John W. Parker and Son.

69

Lewes, G.H. (1877). The Physical Basis of Mind. With Illustrations. Being the Second Series of Problems of
Life and Mind. London: Trbner; for a discussion of Lewess dual-aspect monism, see the essay on Lewes in
this volume.
70

Prince, M. (1885). The Nature of Mind and Human Automatism. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

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18351918. For biographical information on Maudsley, see Collie, M. (1988). Henry Maudsley: Victorian
Psychiatrist. A Bibliographical Study. Winchester: St. Pauls Bibliographies.
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Maudsley, H. (1870). Body and Mind: An Inquiry into their Connection and Mutual Influence, Specially in
Reference to Mental Disorders. London: Macmillan.
73

In an Appendix to this work, Maudsley also reprinted two earlier papers, one on the limits of philosophical
inquiry, one on the theory of vitality.
74

Maudsley, op. cit., p. 41.

75

Ibid., p. 64.

76

Ibid., p. 81.

Extracted from Classics in Psychology, 18551914: Historical Essays


ISBN 1 85506 703 X
Robert H. Wozniak, 1999
Classics in Psychology, 18551914 Historical Essays - Contents