The Amazing Origin of Schizophrenia

The incredible story of the first known case of schizophrenia is a mysterious window into our own psyche.

Casa de Locos (The Madhouse) by Goya

An Unlikely Ambassador

The only thing we know about James Tilly Matthews prior to his diplomatic efforts in France was that he was a British tea broker. Somehow, he had a friendship with David Williams, who himself had been such a close friend of Benjamin Franklin that Franklin once hid in his house to avoid a political situation. During one of the trips to Paris in the early 1790s, David Williams brought Matthews with him and James Tilly Matthews enters the historical record.

Animal Magnetism and the Collective Subconscious

Franz Mesmer
The Execution of Louis XVI

From Bethlehem to Bedlam

Bethlem Hospital in the 17th century

John Haslam

John Haslam was the Apothecary at Bethlem

From Demons to Schizophrenia and Back Again

It is not widely known that both Carl Jung’s psychiatric career, as well as his deep interest in the occult, were both directly related to his early experience with schizophrenic patients. In fact, schizophrenia and madness were windows into other realms for Jung, the realm of the subconscious as well as the realm of the supernatural. It is ironic that the man who gave us the terms concepts of introversion/extrovesion, archetypes, the collective unconscious, etc also gave us the term synchronicity and spent so much time researching alchemy and astrology. However, the link between psychology and the occult is as old as our concept of demons.

Depiction of Insanity at Bethlem
Default Mode Network in a Brain Scan

Weaving it All Together — The Air Loom

Depiction of the Air Loom Gang by James Tilly Matthews
Diagram of the Top of the AIr Loom
Depiction of the Assassination Attempt on King George III by Hadfield

The Influencing Machine

Victor Tausk

A New World

The diagram of the Air Loom was not the only instance of Matthew’s artistry. While a patient at Bethlem, he drew up a series of renovations to the facility as part of a public contest for its improvement. The drawings were so impressive that he was not only paid £50 (a few thousand dollars today) for them but some of his work was actually adopted in the renovations.

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