l a b e l s

In 1930 Evelyn Waugh published a travel book that he called “Labels”:

Twenty years later Evelyn Waugh had a three week period of psychosis and hallucinations which today might have been considered a delirium, secondary and possibly related to, his use of alcohol and prescribed medications (though “pathographical” speculation like this is a territory that I seek to avoid). Following his episode of “madness” Evelyn Waugh was prescribed Paraldehyde which he was to take for the rest of his life.

Coincidentally, the first Edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) was published just after Evelyn Waugh’s illness. The DSM Manual is now in its 5th edition and has expanded, edition by edition, from its first publication in 1952. The World Health Organisation have a similar catalogue of disorders which is called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). It is now in its 11th edition:Evelyn Waugh died in 1966 at the age of 62.

In the decade after his death, T J Scheff published ‘Labelling Theory of Mental Illness’[American Sociological Review, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Jun., 1974), pp. 444-452]

In reading a recent biography of Evelyn Waugh, A Life Revisited by Philip Eade, I came across a number of passages that – unknowing to the author – made me think of my experience as Peter and as a doctor, of a world of illness (Disorders) that has been increasingly sorted and divided into categories. So what follows are representations of associations that I have accidentally found more than 50 years after Evelyn Waugh’s death. I must say, the associations though accidental, seem very real to me:

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