James Crichton-Browne1840–1938

Asylum seeker

The West Riding Lunatic Asylum, with which Crichton-Browne’s portrait is combined, seems an unlikely location for the flowering of neuropathology, but such it was in the 1870s. Crichton-Browne was its director from 1866-1876, and he encouraged research on brain function during his tenure. Ferrier conducted his initial experiments on cortical localization there, and Crichton-Browne himself carried out detailed studies of the relationship between brain weight and insanity. Together with Ferrier and Hughlings Jackson he was a founder of the journal Brain, the first issue of which was published in 1878. The attitude to treatment of the insane was enlightened in the Asylum, and Crichton-Browne was well-acquainted with the behavioural characteristics of its inmates. He has spent much of his early life at the Crichton Royal asylum in Dumfries, where his father, William Alexander Francis Browne (1805-1888) had been the medical superintendent.