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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Alienist is an archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist. Synonyms include mad-doctor), in German Irrenarzt or Nervenarzt and in Dutch Krankzinnigenarts.

An early use of the term is Traité médico-philosophique sur l'aleniation mentale; ou la manie (1801) by Philippe Pinel.

Despite falling out of favor by the middle of the twentieth century, it received renewed attention when used in the title of the 1994 novel The Alienist by Caleb Carr.

Although currently not often used, the term "alienist" is still used in psychiatric hospitals to describe those mental health professionals who evaluate defendants to determine their competency to stand trial.

  • It is used in Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness to describe the doctor in the Company headquarters in Belgium.
  • The title character of Joaquim Machado de Assis' 1882 novella "The Alienist" ("O Alienista") is a psychiatrist, Dr. Simão Bacamarte.
  • It also appears in Harry Houdini's first feature silent film "The Grim Game" written by Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey, adapted for the screen by Walters Woods. A Parmount-Artcraft Picture from 1919 as "Harvey Hanford, star reporter for The Daily Call newspaper. Alienist was used to describe the doctor "Dr.Tyson, a famous alienist and Cameron's physician." played by Arthur Hoyt.

Harry Houdini plays "Harvey Hanford" a young man who is wrongfully jailed for murder and must escape to save his fiancé "Mary Wentworth" played by Ann Forest. Available for viewing online on TCM until: OCT 26, 2015 Director: Irvin V Willat Photographed by: J.O. Taylor Art Director: Wilfred Buckland Starring: Harry Houdini as "Harvey Hanford, D. Cameron's estranged nephew", Thomas Jefferson as "Dudley Cameron, childless eccentric millionaire miser", Ann Forrest as "Mary Wentworth, D. Cameron's ward and heiress"

  • It also appears in H.P. Lovecraft's 1927 novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward to describe the doctors who examine the protagonist during his stay at Dr. Waite's psychiatric hospital, as well as in his story Beyond the Wall of Sleep.
  • It is used in Daniel A. Coleman's novel The Anarchist, to describe the main character Jon Parker, who examines Leon Czolgosz, assassin of President Mckinley.
  • It is used by the fictional Dr. Simon Jordan when mentioning fellow psychiatrists in Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace.
  • More recently, see also Sebastian Faulks - Human Traces (2005).
  • When Kris Kringle is put “on trial” in the 1947 film Miracle on 34th street, several newspaper articles call the psychiatrists who examined him "alienists".
  • Newspapers in the 2011 game L.A. Noire use the term to describe psychiatrist Harlan Fontaine.
  • It was used on the season 2 The Originals episode "Red Door", where Mikaelson family patriarch Mikael calls Cami, a therapist, an alienist.
  • Also used on Television program Penny Dreadful: "Possession" Episode, where Vanessa speaking with Dr. Frankenstein, asks during an examination "meaning you will soon bring in an alienist?"
  • New York Times; December 28, 1934, Friday; Two Alienists Report Alleged Budd Slayer Has Some Abnormalities. White Plains, New York; December 27, 1934. Two alienists reported today to Walter A. Ferris, District Attorney elect of Westchester County, that Albert Fish, 64 years old, held in the county jail for the murder of Grace Budd, is legally sane.
  • In Agatha Christie's 1936 novel The A.B.C. Murders, Dr. Thompson, "the famous alienist", is called to Scotland Yard to help Poirot and Inspector Japp find a murderer who mails cryptic letters to Poirot before each murder.
  • The 2014 film Stonehearst Asylum, set in 1899, uses the term "alienist" to refer to doctors who treat asylum patients.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Alienist" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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