The most abundant sources for understanding the history of psychiatry are medical case notes, kept by asylum staff. In addition, petitions for admission gave accounts of behaviour that precipitated the committal of a person to an institution. In this case he was a well-off London lawyer and the asylum was an up-market private one in the Home Counties of England. In drawing up the certification necessary for compulsory committal, the medical men relied much more on accounts given by servants and family, than they did on the rather uncommunicative object of their consultation.
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