Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots : A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland

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    • Publication Type:
      eBook.
    • Abstract:
      “Reveals the grisly conditions in which the mentally ill were kept... [and] harrowing details of the inhumane and gruesome treatment of these patients.”—Daily Mail 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 analyzed 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 patient's 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. “Through the use of case studies, this book adds a personal note to the historiography in a way that is often missing from scholarly works.”—Federation of Family History Societies
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