Alienist (al·ien·ist, āl’yə-nĭst)

n. Law. A physician who has been accepted by a court as an expert on the mental competence of principals or witnesses appearing before it; alternately one who treats mental illnesses. [Fr. aliéniste, < aliéné, insane < Lat. alienatus, p.part. of alienare, to deprive of reason, as in a state of lunacy, insanity, and loss of mental faculties, first known use late 15thc.]

This Alienist, a creature of the Enlightenment trapped in a modern disposable world, is a lover of all things historical. He seeks the odd and eccentric; the mechanical and steampunkish; the charmingly primitive and frighteningly barbarous; evidence of pseudoscience and its bastard child, medical quackery; and those items at once touching yet macabre and funereal. The scope of human genius, and the depths to which psychopathology can devolve, never ceases to amaze him. If a tchotchke, a factoid, or a longer missive elicits smiles, grimaces, “ooohs,” “aaahs,” an occasional “yuck,” or a passionate discussion, you’ll hopefully find it here.

The Compendium is the attic of his psyche. Come in and make yourself at home, but please don’t mind the dust.

[photo of Severalls Asylum, est. 1910, Colchester, Essex, UK, courtesy of]

[Copyright 2013 @ The Alienist’s Compendium]