Any of the forms of mental illness, or dementia. May also mean, along with the term “vapors” that the individual died from acute alcohol ingestion, or the DTs. In the 1800s is was defined as severe insanity. Acute mania was used as a term for death when the patient had been hospitalized in a mental institution. It would be hard to say exactly what the mental illness was. Mental illness contains a cultural definition and what is mentally ill in one culture may not be in another.