Institutionalizing the Insane in Nineteenth-Century England by Anna Shepherd

By Anna Shepherd

The 19th century introduced an elevated wisdom of psychological sickness, epitomized within the Asylum Acts of 1808 and 1845. Shepherd appears to be like at very diverse associations to supply a nuanced account of the nineteenth-century psychological healthiness process.

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These entertainments, including theatricals, formed a core component in his treatment of the patients, and he believed they assisted their recovery process Caring for Surrey’s Insane 35 and the return to normal life. Through participation and observation of such social occasions, patients were offered the opportunity to exhibit rationality and social competence, which in turn could lead them to rehabilitation in society. As such, the entertainments were a component of moral treatment and thus a humane reintroduction into the many aspects of everyday life.

This resulted in a substantial shift in the origins and character of the patient profile at Brookwood. Whilst it is not the intention to examine patient data in detail at this point, some statistics are relevant in illustrating Brookwood’s general function and location within the provision of lunacy care in nineteenth-century Surrey. 1 shows the total numbers of patients admitted to Brookwood, 1867–97, as well as the numbers of male and female patients admitted each year. Although distribution by sex is discussed later in more detail, it is indicated that the variance in male and female patients was not substantial.

Such events went some way to alleviating the tedium of life for attendants, who lived for much of their time isolated in the asylum, and were liable to become almost as institutionalized as the patients. Unlike the nearby Holloway Sanatorium whose largely middle-class clientele were unused to manual labour and where appropriate behaviour and manners were emphasized, Brookwood’s daily regime incorporated a rigorous work schedule. This ensured both therapy and occupation for the patients whilst also helping the asylum to maintain some self-sufficiency.

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