Beard, George M. (George Miller), 1839-1883

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1839-05-08
Death 1883-01-23
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

George M. Beard: physician and specialist in mental and nervous disorders; in 1866 began practice in New York City, specializing in nervous diseases in partnership with Dr. A. D. Rockwell; investigated the use of electricity in medical treatment; isolated and described neurasthenia; champion of the rights of the insane.

From the description of George Miller Beard papers, 1853-1923 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702168115

George M. Beard: physician and specialist in mental and nervous disorders; in 1866 began practice in New York City, specializing in nervous diseases in partnership with Dr. A. D. Rockwell; investigated the use of electricity in medical treatment; isolated and described neurasthenia; champion of the rights of the insane.

George Miller Beard, 1839-1883, was a distinguished physician and specialist in the treatment of mental and nervous disorders. He was born in Montville, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend Spencer F. Beard, a Congregational clergyman, and Lucy A. Leonard. He entered Yale College in 1858, graduated in Arts in 1862, and spent a year in the Yale Medical Department before studying at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Qualifying in 1866, Beard immediately joined Dr. A. D. Rockwell in practice in New York, and began to specialize in the study of nervous diseases.

With A. D. Rockwell, Beard published many works on the use of electricity in medical treatment. These studies resulted in the isolation of a complaint, nervous exhaustion or neurasthenia, to which, as Beard explained in his book, American Nervousness (1881), Americans seemed particularly susceptible. Beard also attributed hay-fever, sea sickness, and certain sexual problems to nervous disorders.

Beard championed the rights of the insane and was instrumental in the formation of the "National Association for the Protection of the Insane and Prevention of Insanity." He worked to reform the law so that the insane could not be found guilty of crime, and was famous for vigorously defending this opinion in the case of Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield.

Interested in spiritualism, Beard carried out many experiments in order to prove his theory that mind reading, trances and other manifestations of spiritualism had physiological explanations. His demonstrations at medical association conferences seem to have excited considerable controversy.

Beard died at the age of 44, but during his short life he was a prolific writer and an active campaigner for medical and social causes. His works range from those with a popular appeal, such as Our Home Physician, to scholarly treatises, like the Medical Use of Electricity . Beard's attention to original and frequently unusual research opened up a field of medicine which had been generally neglected until that time. His works were written with vigor and sometimes with unpleasant bluntness, but he was praised after his death in 1883 by a colleague, William Crookes, as "one of that rare class of thinkers who dare to utter their thoughts, and who discuss matters to which the world is glad to close its eyes."

Biographical material may be found in SERIES I, folder 20; and SERIES III, folder 2.

From the guide to the George Miller Beard papers, 1853-1923, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6qj968b
Ark ID:
w6qj968b
SNAC ID:
2715599

Subjects:

  • Electrotherapeutics
  • Hysteria
  • Medicine
  • Neurasthenia
  • Older people--Employment
  • Mental illness
  • Sexual disorders
  • Insanity--Jurisprudence
  • Insanity (Law)
  • Electricity
  • Nervous system--Diseases
  • Popular culture
  • Psychoses
  • Law
  • Psychology, Pathological
  • Spiritualism

Occupations:

  • Physicians

Places:

not available for this record