Monday, October 22, 2018

The Lunatic Asylum Nightmare

Monday, October 22, 2018
Goya, Courtyard with Lunatics
Loretta reports:

The nightmare theme of a sane person being locked up in a lunatic asylum appears in fiction again and again. This is because it touched a chord. For all too many, especially women, this was a grim reality.

My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum, which I came upon via the Public Domain Review, describes in disturbing detail a man’s experience in the Victorian era. For a woman’s point of view, you might want to look at Nellie Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House.

In the fictional world, the theme is prominent in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White.
"I suppose that we most of us...quietly comforted ourselves with the reflection that 'in the nineteenth century' (an expression which is used as a sort of talisman, apparently, like the 'Briton' of Palmerston's day) such things are impossible.  It requires a personal experience of their amenities, such as fell to my lot, seriously to believe that the adventures of a novel may be transferred to the pages of an 'article," and be as strange--and true. Villainous conspiracies, for personal motive, to set the lunacy law in motion, are rare enough, I do not doubt. But the law favours them. What is not rare, I doubt even less, is the imprisonment in these fearful places of people who are perfectly sane, but suffering from some temporary disorder of the brain, the most delicate and intricate part of all the mechanism, and the least understood; and if asylums are a sad necessity for the really mad,—and even that I cannot help doubting; for from what I have seen I believe that they require a much more loving and more direction personal supervision than they can get, poor people,--for the nervous sufferers who are not mad they are terrible."—My experiences in a Lunatic Asylum, by a Sane Patient (1879)
Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum
Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on a caption link will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed. And, just so you know, if you order a book through one of my posts, I might get a small share of the sale.


Regencyresearcher said...

Also, doesn't Mary Wollenstonecraft have the wife Maria or the Wrongs of Women sent to a Madhouse by her husband? Sending a wife to a lunatic asylum was still something that could be easily done in the 1940's in the USA. Even after the signature of two doctors was required, it was fairly easy to have people sent to an asylum. Though others besides wives were sent to asylums, it most frequently was wives and daughters who were sent there because they were an embarrassment.

Jade said...

One of the us presidents did it to their daughter. Perhaps the kennedies. I can’t quite recall. But basically she was too free with her favors and they had her lobotomized.

Jade said...

Ah it was a sister

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket