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“Railway madmen” were thought to be activated by the sounds and motion of train travel. Thoughts of innovation and new technology would drive people completely crazy are not a new phenomenon.
4 Jan 2024
Thoughts of innovation and new technology would drive people completely crazy are not a new phenomenon. There was a Victorian belief that a train ride could cause instant insanity.
'As Edwin Fuller Torrey and Judy Miller wrote in The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, trains were believed to “injure the brain.” In particular, the jarring motion of the train was alleged to unhinge the mind and either drive sane people mad or trigger violent outbursts from a latent “lunatic.” Mixed with the noise of the train car, it could, it was believed, shatter nerves.
In the 1860s and ‘70s, reports began emerging of bizarre passenger behavior on the railways. When seemingly sedate people boarded trains, they suddenly began behaving in socially unacceptable ways.'
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