Using the career of Richard M. Bucke at the London Asylum in Canada as its focus, this 1986 book explores the theory and practice of late nineteenth-century psychiatry. The study describes the medical context that nurtured Victorian alienists, while their professional sphere - the asylum - is considered as an autonomous social community, often at odds with the intentions of its ostensible masters. Psychiatric theory is discussed less as an objective body of biomedical knowledge than as a product of the social turmoil that characterized the final decades of the nineteenth century. Unlike many other studies of nineteenth-century psychiatry, this book does not restrict itself to a single national experience, but adopts an explicitly Anglo-American perspective. Rather than restricting attention to political or institutional factors, it accords major significance to the role of ideas in determining the character of late Victorian psychiatry.