The evolution of China into a modern nation-state has seen few episodes more meaningful than the Taiping Rebellion occurring in the latter half of the last century. In the leader of this rebellion, Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, there is much that is of special interest to the sociologist and the psychiatrist. In the origin of this vast movement can be seen the great importance of individualpsychological factors which elevate a leader and help to precipitate a revolutionary social transformation—for Hung is known to have suffered an acute mental disturbance which undoubtedly moulded his destiny.

The rebellion has been interpreted variously as a peasant uprising against official corruption, a protest against intolerable economic distress, or simply a nationalistic revolt against the Manchu dynasty. Be that as it may, there is general agreement that it was a movement unique in Chinese history because it instituted a radical change in the political system which existed for more than two thousand years, and brought about economic, social, cultural, and religious reforms over the greater part of Central and South China between 1851 and 1864.

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