Lunatics and Asylums



The history of the mental illness services is dominated by reformers and paid professionals — the keepers, nurses, psychiatrists, etc. Rarely is the voice of the ‘lunatic’ heard except through the traditional case studies, where little sense of a whole person is ever revealed — only a ragbag of unusual symptoms to illustrate some treasured thesis of the writer. We hear the voice of the victors, not that of the victims, and rarely appreciate the intimate and subtle relationships between them. There is some deep truth in that caustic comment of Florence Nightingale about Shaftesbury, the nineteenth-century social reformer: ‘Lord Shaftesbury would have been in an asylum had he not devoted himself to reforming them’ (Skultans, 1979, p. 98). Professionals and patients, keepers and lunatics, develop a strange sort of dependency on one another.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. John Arlidge, On the State of Lunacy and the Legal Provision for the Insane (Churchill, 1859).Google Scholar
  2. Samuel Bakewell, An Essay on Insanity (Edinburgh, 1833) p. 47.Google Scholar
  3. Gregory Bateson (ed.), Perceval’s Narrative (Stanford University Press, 1961).Google Scholar
  4. Edmund Blunden (ed.), Sketches in the Life of John Clare by Himself (Cobden-Sanderson, 1931).Google Scholar
  5. B. M. Braginsky et al., Methods of Madness: The Mental Hospital as a Last Resort (Holt, 1969).Google Scholar
  6. Don Braisby in David Towell and Tom McAusland, ‘Managing Psychiatric Services in Transition: An Overview’, section 2, King’s Fund Working Papers (1989).Google Scholar
  7. David Brandon, Voices of Experience (MIND, 1981).Google Scholar
  8. Georgina Brown, ‘The Power of Words over Sentences’, The Independent (1 March 1989).Google Scholar
  9. Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (Hodson, 1621).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, The Patients Case — Views from Experience: Living Inside and Out of a Psychiatric Hospital (1987).Google Scholar
  11. John Conolly, An Inquiry Concerning the Indications of Insanity (London, 1830) pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  12. John Conolly, Treatment of the Insane without Mechanical Restraints (London, 1856) pp. 102–3.Google Scholar
  13. Jennifer Dawson, The Ha Ha (Penguin, 1962).Google Scholar
  14. J. Ford and M. Hollick, ‘Singer of the Song — An Autobiographical Account of a Suicidally Destructive Person and her Social Worker’, British Journal of Social Work, 9 (1979) p. 471.Google Scholar
  15. Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization (Tavistock, 1971) p. 70.Google Scholar
  16. Michel Foucault, Mental Illness and Psychology (Harper Colophon Books, 1976) pp. 67–8.Google Scholar
  17. Jan Foudraine, Not Made of Wood (Quartet Books, 1971) p. 410.Google Scholar
  18. Sander Gilman, Seeing the Insane (John Wiley, 1982).Google Scholar
  19. Erving Goffman, Asylums — Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (Penguin, 1968)pp.335–6.Google Scholar
  20. Mary R. Glover, The Retreat York — An Early Experiment in the Treatment of Mental Illness (Sessions, 1984) pp. 48–9.Google Scholar
  21. HMSO, Medical Officers Report, 1950.Google Scholar
  22. HMSO, Better Services for the Mentally Ill(1975) p. 2.Google Scholar
  23. Marcia Hamilcar, ‘Legally Dead’, in Dale Peterson (ed.) A Mad People’s History of Madness (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  24. Edward Hare, ‘Schizophrenia Before 1800 — The Case of the Rev George Trosse’, Psychological Medicine, 18 (1988) pp. 279 – 85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. John Haslam, Illustrations of Madness (Routledge, 1988 ) p. xiii, Roy Porter, Introduction.Google Scholar
  26. R. Hinshelwood and Nick Manning (eds), Therapeutic Communities (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) p. 56.Google Scholar
  27. Hopkins, ‘Living under the Threat of Death’, Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 4 (3) (1977) pp. 5 – 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Richard Hunter and Ida MacAlpine, Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry —1535–1860 (Oxford Univ. Press, 1963) p. 358.Google Scholar
  29. K. Jaspars, General Psychopathology (1923) translated by J.Hoenig and M. W. Hamilton (University of Chicago Press, 1963) p. 425.Google Scholar
  30. D. M. Johnson and N. Dodds (eds) The Plea for the Silent (Johnson, 1958 ).Google Scholar
  31. Kathleen Jones, Lunacy: Law and Conscience 1744–1845, edited by W.J.H. Sprott (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955) p. 116.Google Scholar
  32. Kathleen Jones, A History of the Mental Health Services (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972) p. 41.Google Scholar
  33. King’s Fund Centre, Psychiatric Hospitals Viewed by their Patients (1977).Google Scholar
  34. Bernard Kops, On Margate Sands (Seeker & Warburg, 1978).Google Scholar
  35. Jimmy Laing and Dermot McQuarrie, Fifty Years in the System (Mainstream Publishing, 1989).Google Scholar
  36. Susan Lonsdale et al., Long Term Psychiatric Patients: A Study in Community Care (PSSC, 1980).Google Scholar
  37. David H. Malan, Individual Psychotherapy and the Science of Psychodynamics (Butterworth, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  38. Henry Maudsley, Responsibility in Mental Disease, 2nd edn (Kegan Paul, 1874).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Henry Maudsley, ‘Illustration of a Variety of Insanity’, Journal of Mental Science, 14(1868) pp. 149–62.Google Scholar
  40. Charles Mercier ‘Vice, Crime and Insanity’, in A System of Medicine, edited by Thomas Clifford Allbutt and Humphrey Davy Rolleston (Macmillan, 1910, 2nd edn).Google Scholar
  41. Urbane Metcalf, ‘The Interior of Bethlehem Hospital’, in Dale Peterson (ed.), A Mad People’s History of Madness.Google Scholar
  42. Wilfred Owen, Collected Works.Google Scholar
  43. William Parry-Jones, The Trade in Lunacy (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972) pp. 7-8.Google Scholar
  44. Dale Peterson (ed.), A Mad People’s History of Madness (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1982) pp. 6–18.Google Scholar
  45. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (Heinemann, 1963).Google Scholar
  46. Roy Porter, ‘Diary of a Seventeenth Century Madman’, in Lectures on the History of Psychiatry, edited by R. M. Murray and T. H. Turner (Gaskell, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1990).Google Scholar
  47. Shulamit Ramon, Psychiatry in Britain — Meaning and Policy (Croom Helm, 1985) p. 69.Google Scholar
  48. W. H. J. Rivers, ‘Freud’s Psychology of the Unconscious’, The Lancet (16 June 1917).Google Scholar
  49. Barbara Robb, Sans Everything — A Case to Answer (Nelson, 1967).Google Scholar
  50. Martha Robinson, ‘Schizophrenia — The Hell Within’, Community Care (12 July 1979 ).Google Scholar
  51. D. L. Rosenhan, ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’, Science, 179 (1973) pp. 250–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thomas W. Salmon, The Care and Treatment of Mental Disease and War Neuroses in the British Army (War Work Committee of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, 1917 (New York)) p. 31.Google Scholar
  53. Paul Sayer, The Comforts of Madness (Constable, 1988) p. 120.Google Scholar
  54. Andrew T. Scull, Museums of Madness — The Social Organisation of Insanity in Nineteenth Century England (Penguin, 1982) p. 226.Google Scholar
  55. Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady — Women, Madness and English Culture — 1830 to 1980 (Virago, 1987) p. 17.Google Scholar
  56. Vieda Skultans, English Madness: Ideas on Insanity 1580–1890 (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979) p. 88.Google Scholar
  57. D. E. Smith, ‘K is Mentally Ill: The Anatomy of a Factual Account’, Sociology, 12 (1) (1978) pp. 23 – 53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. L. D. Smith, ‘Behind Closed Doors: Lunatic Asylum Keepers: 1800–60’, Social History of Medicine vol. 1, no. 13, (December 1988) p. 309.Google Scholar
  59. Stuart Sutherland, Breakdown (Paladin, 1977).Google Scholar
  60. J. W. and A. Tibble, John Clare — A Life (Cobden-Sanderson, 1932 ) p. 421.Google Scholar
  61. Samuel Tuke, A Description of The Retreat (York, 1813) pp. 133–4.Google Scholar
  62. John Vincent, Inside the Asylum (Allen & Unwin, 1948).Google Scholar
  63. John Walton, ‘The Treatment of Pauper Lunatics in Victorian England: The Case of the Lancaster Asylum 1816–70’, ch. 7 in Andrew Scull (ed.), Madhouses, Mad-Doctors and Madmen?; The Social History of Psychiatry in the Victorian Era (The Athlone Press, 1981) pp. 191–2.Google Scholar
  64. Ruth Ward, ‘Schizophrenia: How One Family Coped’, MIND OUT (April 1981).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Brandon 1991

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations