Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland by Dr John Burt, Kathryn Burtinshaw
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots
A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland
by Dr John Burt, Kathryn Burtinshaw
Pen & Sword
Pub Date 30 Apr 2017
Courtesy of Netgalley
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland by Dr John Burt and Kathryn Burtinshaw was a challenging read but a very fascinating one. The authors detail how the mentally ill were cared for before the nineteenth century. They also delve into legislation that was meant to reform their care. Several chapters describe the care of the mentally ill in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
The description of life in an asylum was fascinating. It really was much more humane than it eventually became. There were open spaces. Music, art and gardens were part of the patients’ lives. The patients were kept clean and physically healthy.
An attempted assassination of King George III changed the way the criminally insane were treated. At first they were housed with other mentally ill. Eventually they were housed by themselves. The case studies included in different sections were fascinating. The chapter on treatments was disturbing.
It is interesting to see how these asylums were originally created to be. The way they degenerate into houses of horror by the end of the nineteenth century is extremely sad. The mentally ill are treated more as animals than humans who are in need of medical care. If you are interested in the history of the treatment of the mentally ill, I recommend this book. It can be a slog with some of the dense information but it is worth it.