Life in the Victorian Asylum reconstructs the lost world of the nineteenth century public asylums. This fresh take on the history of mental health reveals why county asylums were built, the sort of people they housed and the treatments they received, as well as the enduring legacy of these remarkable institutions. Mark Stevens, the best-selling author of Broadmoor Revealed, is a professional archivist and expert on asylum records. In this book, he delves into Victorian mental health archives to recreate the experience of entering an asylum and being treated there, perhaps for a lifetime. Praise for Broadmoor Revealed 'Superb,' Family Tree magazine 'Detailed and thoughtful,' Times Literary Supplement 'Paints a fascinating picture,' Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine
Theaters of Madness
Author: Benjamin Reiss
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
In the mid-1800s, a utopian movement to rehabilitate the insane resulted in a wave of publicly funded asylums—many of which became unexpected centers of cultural activity. Housed in magnificent structures with lush grounds, patients participated in theatrical programs, debating societies, literary journals, schools, and religious services. Theaters of Madness explores both the culture these rich offerings fomented and the asylum’s place in the fabric of nineteenth-century life, reanimating a time when the treatment of the insane was a central topic in debates over democracy, freedom, and modernity. Benjamin Reiss explores the creative lives of patients and the cultural demands of their doctors. Their frequently clashing views turned practically all of American culture—from blackface minstrel shows to the works of William Shakespeare—into a battlefield in the war on insanity. Reiss also shows how asylums touched the lives and shaped the writing of key figures, such as Emerson and Poe, who viewed the system alternately as the fulfillment of a democratic ideal and as a kind of medical enslavement. Without neglecting this troubling contradiction, Theaters of Madness prompts us to reflect on what our society can learn from a generation that urgently and creatively tried to solve the problem of mental illness.
Author: Mark Stevens
The five volumes that constitute Arthur Marder's From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow represented arguably the finest contribution to the literature of naval history since Alfred Mahan. A J P Taylor wrote that 'his naval history has a unique fascination. To unrivalled mastery of sources he adds a gift of simple narrative . . . He is beyond praise, as he is beyond cavil.' The five volumes were subtitled The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904–1919 and they are still, despite recent major contributions from Robert Massie and Andrew Gordan, regarded by many as the definitive history of naval events leading up to and including the Great War. This first volume covers many facets of the history of the Royal Navy during the pre-war decade, including the economic and political background such as the 1906 Liberal Government hostility towards naval spending. Inevitably, however, attention moves to the German naval challenge, the arms race and the subsequent Anglo-German rivalry, and, finally, the British plans for the blockade of the German High Seas Fleet. A new introduction by Barry Gough, the distinguished Canadian maritime and naval historian, assesses the importance of Marder's work and anchors it firmly amongst the great naval narrative histories of this era. This new paperback edition will bring a truly great work to a new generation of historians and general readers.
This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license. This book explores how the body was investigated in the late nineteenth-century asylum in Britain. As more and more Victorian asylum doctors looked to the bodily fabric to reveal the ‘truth’ of mental disease, a whole host of techniques and technologies were brought to bear upon the patient's body. These practices encompassed the clinical and the pathological, from testing the patient's reflexes to dissecting the brain. Investigating the Body in the Victorian Asylum takes a unique approach to the topic, conducting a chapter-by-chapter dissection of the body. It considers how asylum doctors viewed and investigated the skin, muscles, bones, brain, and bodily fluids. The book demonstrates the importance of the body in nineteenth-century psychiatry as well as how the asylum functioned as a site of research, and will be of value to historians of psychiatry, the body, and scientific practice.
Author: Sarah Wise
Publisher: Random House
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE Gaslight tales of rooftop escapes, men and women snatched in broad daylight, patients shut in coffins, a fanatical cult known as the Abode of Love... The nineteenth century saw repeated panics about sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums. With the rise of the ‘mad-doctor’ profession, English liberty seemed to be threatened by a new generation of medical men willing to incarcerate difficult family members in return for the high fees paid by an unscrupulous spouse or friend. Sarah Wise uncovers twelve shocking stories, untold for over a century and reveals the darker side of the Victorian upper and middle classes – their sexuality, fears of inherited madness, financial greed and fraudulence – and chillingly evoke the black motives at the heart of the phenomenon of the ‘inconvenient person’.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed. Focusing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively advancing attitudes and expectations affected decisions, leading to better legislation and medical practice throughout the century. Specific mental health conditions are discussed in detail and the treatments patients received are analysed in an expert way. A clear view of why institutional asylums were established, their ethos for the treatment of patients, and how they were run as palaces rather than prisons giving moral therapy to those affected becomes apparent. The changing ways in which patients were treated, and altered societal views to the incarceration of the mentally ill, are explored. The book is thoroughly illustrated and contains images of patients and asylum staff never previously published, as well as first-hand accounts of life in a nineteenth-century asylum from a patients perspective. Written for genealogists as well as historians, this book contains clear information concerning access to asylum records and other relevant primary sources and how to interpret their contents in a meaningful way.
Author: Christopher Payne, Oliver W. Sacks
Publisher: Mit Press
Powerful photographs of the grand exteriors and crumbling interiors of America's abandoned state mental hospitals.
The Victorian Asylum
Author: Sarah Rutherford
Publisher: Shire Publications
The Victorian lunatic asylum has a special place in history. Dreaded and reviled by many, these nineteenth-century buildings provide a unique window on how the Victorians housed and treated the mentally ill. Despite initially good intentions, they became warehouses for society's outcasts at a time when cures were far fewer than hoped for. Isolated, hidden in the countryside and surrounded by high walls, they were eventually distributed throughout Britain, the Empire, the Continent and North America, with 120 or so in England and Wales alone. Now the memory of them is fading, and many of the buildings have gone or are threatened. Most have been closed as hospitals since the 1980s and either been demolished or turned into prestigious private apartments, their original use largely forgotten. Their memory deserves rehabilitation as a fascinating part of Victorian life that survived into modern times. In The Victorian Asylum, Sarah Rutherford gives an insight into their history, their often imposing architecture, and their later decline, and brings to life these haunting buildings, some of which still survive today.
Women and Madness
Author: Phyllis Chesler
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Feminist icon Phyllis Chesler's pioneering work, Women and Madness, remains startlingly relevant today, nearly 50 years since its first publication in 1972. With over 2.5 million copies sold, this seminal book is unanimously regarded as the definitive work on the subject of women's psychology. Now back in print this completely revised and updated edition from 2005 adds to her original research and findings perspectives on the issues of eating disorders, postpartum depression, biological psychology, important feminist political findings, female genital mutilation and more.
The Last Asylum
Author: Barbara Taylor
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
In the late 1970s, Barbara Taylor, then an acclaimed young historian, began to suffer from severe anxiety. In the years that followed, Taylor’s world contracted around her illness. Eventually, her struggles were severe enough to lead to her admission to what had once been England’s largest psychiatric institution, the infamous Friern Mental Hospital in North London. The Last Asylum is Taylor’s breathtakingly blunt and brave account of those years. In it, Taylor draws not only on her experience as a historian, but also, more importantly, on her own lived history at Friern— once known as the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and today the site of a luxury apartment complex. Taylor was admitted to Friern in July 1988, not long before England’s asylum system began to undergo dramatic change: in a development that was mirrored in America, the 1990s saw the old asylums shuttered, their patients left to plot courses through a perpetually overcrowded and underfunded system of community care. But Taylor contends that the emptying of the asylums also marked a bigger loss, a loss of community. She credits her own recovery to the help of a steadfast psychoanalyst and a loyal circle of friends— from Magda, Taylor’s manic-depressive roommate, to Fiona, who shares tips for navigating the system and stories of her boyfriend, the “Spaceman,” and his regular journeys to Saturn. The forging of that network of support and trust was crucial to Taylor’s recovery, offering a respite from the “stranded, homeless feelings” she and others found in the outside world. A vivid picture of mental health treatment at a moment of epochal change, The Last Asylum is also a moving meditation on Taylor’s own experience, as well as that of millions of others who struggle with mental illness.
Ten Days in a Mad-House
Author: Nellie Bly
Publisher: Andrews UK Limited
This is the true story of reporter Nellie Bly, who pretends to be insane, and manages to get herself committed into an insane asylum in the USA. This revised second digital edition is a fascinating account, specially formatted for today's e-readers by Andrews UK.
More than four hundred abandoned suitcases filled with patients' belongings were found when Willard Psychiatric Center closed in 1995 after 125 years of operation. In this fully-illustrated social history, they are skillfully examined and compared to the written record to create a moving-and devastating-group portrait of twentieth-century American psychiatric care.
"[...]escape-just a little of it; then I sit close by it, calling it my kitchen fire-place. I am regulating the comfort of this ward in a measure, but they don't know it. February.-My dear Lewis has been to see me today. We chat together as usual; how can he think me crazy? Dr. Steeves tells him I am, I suppose, and so he thinks it must be so. He is so happy to see me looking better; he is more loving than ever; he holds my hand in his and tells me he will take me out for a drive when the weather is fine. And I said, "Oh Lewis, my dear boy, I am well enough to go home with you to your hotel now." I so long for some of Mrs. Burns' good dinners; her meals are all nice, and here we have such horrid stuff. Dark-colored, sour bakers' bread, with miserable butter, constitutes our breakfast and tea; there is oatmeal porridge and cheap molasses at breakfast, but I could not eat that, it would be salts and senna for me. At noon we have plenty of meat and vegetables, indifferently[...]".
“The trial which terminated yesterday…revealed one of the strangest and most horrible stories possibly ever told in a court of justice.” (Morning Post). When the news broke in 1871 of a series of mysterious poisonings in Brighton, shock and horror gripped the Victorian public. Even more disturbing was the revelation that the culprit was not a common criminal but rather a local 'lady of fortune' called Christiana Edmunds. From March 1871 Christiana had sent out dozens of poisoned chocolates and sweets to Brighton’s residents. Her campaign resulted in the death of four-year-old holidaymaker Sidney Barker, and wounded countless others. Her arrest in August 1871 provoked such an emotional response from the local public that her trial was moved from Brighton to London’s Old Bailey. The prosecution anticipated an easy victory. Christiana had not confessed, but witnesses confirmed that she had purchased strychnine and their testimonies placed her at the scene of the crimes. She had a motive too, argued the prosecution; she was a scorned woman. Despite the best efforts of the defence, the jury took only one hour to convict her of the murder of Sidney Barker and the attempted murder of three others. In a last dramatic twist, Christiana was reprieved after being declared insane by the Home Office and lived out her days in Broadmoor. Alongside Christiana’s case, the book will offer a snapshot of life in Brighton, one of Victorian England’s busiest and most popular leisure resorts. However, this wholesome holiday destination also had a steamy underworld of sexual licence, which reached even seemingly secure middle-class young women.
The Victorian Hospital
Author: Lavinia Mitton
Publisher: Shire Publications
During the 1830s British hospitals were a far cry from the standard of healthcare we expect today. With a lack of institutions to cater for the seriously ill, those who did receive treatment would not necessarily benefit from being hospitalized, as the care available was hardly an improvement on being nursed at home. The Victorian period saw a vast growth in the number of hospitals in Britain and these infirmaries became increasingly involved with the education of health care and medical professions. Yet despite the growing role of hospitals, there were wide variations in the quality of medical services available. This book charts the changes that took place in the Victorian era and explores the different types of hospitals that were available, from the celebrated specialist institutions served by famous surgeons to the appalling workhouse infirmaries where the patients were looked after by untrained pauper nurses. Illustrated with black and white drawings and photographs of the buildings, beds, waiting rooms and even ambulances that served the Victorian people, this book is a fascinating insight into the different healthcare available to the rich and the poor, and the advances in surgery and nursing that closed the gap between the 1830s hospital and the establishments that we are familiar with today.