Skip to main content

The Insane in Early Modern Sweden and Finland

This postdoctoral research project on the social history of insanity focuses on the interconnections between religion, welfare and the experiences of those considered mentally deviant in early modern (ca. 1550–1800) Sweden and Finland. In particular, the study explores early modern ‘welfare systems’ and the role of religion in the everyday lives of the insane. The project also assesses the nature and extent of the inclusion, participation and stigmatization of insane or mentally disabled people in the early modern society and communities.


Postdoctoral Researcher -project funded by the Academy of Finland, conducted at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX).


The project produces new information about underexplored topics in the fields of Finnish and Swedish history and social history. History of the insane is updated by bringing forth their participation and agency in the local communities. The project revises the image of the meanings of insanity and the place and stigmatization of insane people in a time traditionally represented as a 'dark age' for the mentally deviant. Knowledge of the past increases our understanding on how the attitudes towards insanity and the current position of the mentally ill have been formed, and offers tools to recognize patterns of inclusion and exclusion of marginalized groups in today's society.

Funding source

Academy of Finland



Contact persons

Riikka Miettinen

Postdoctoral researcher

riikka.miettinen [at]