In the late eighteenth century mental illness was treated with brutal and inhumane methods by 'mad-doctors', and the treatment of George III was no exception. George III's Illnesses and His Doctors provides an insightful, forensic and sympathetic picture of how and why members of the royal family turned in desperation to an unqualified quack practitioner, James Lucett, in the hope of finding a cure for the king's 'insanity'. Much has been written in the past about 'Mad King George'. This book brings fresh evidence and new understanding to the case of the 'mad' king.
Lucett's claims were tested in psychiatry's first 'therapeutic trial' and science was invoked in an attempt to improve understanding of the roots of insanity. The results were mixed but nevertheless George III's case and the subsequent career of the deeply flawed Lucett were important elements in the revolutionary change in attitudes to the treatment of the insane which came about as the nineteenth century progressed.
Based closely on primary source material, George III's Illnesses and His Doctors is a moving story of human suffering but also of efforts to challenge medical orthodoxy and to improve understanding of mental illness. Some of the issues raised in the early nineteenth century remain to be resolved now.