Tag: Asylums

“I Would Rather Have My Own Mind”: The Medicalization of Women’s Behavior in Ireland, 1914-1920

When he brought her to the asylum, twenty-four-year old Katie’s father was asked to describe what behaviors or actions had marked her “attack.” He noted, first, that she suffered from “some uterine trouble,” and secondly, that she was “addicted to reading Novels, esp. Modn. cheap ones. Fond of amusement and gay society.”1 It sounds like… Read more →

The Trauma of Displacement: How History Can Help Us Understand the Refugee Experience

In February of 1915, a fifty-five year old woman, who we will call Ella, was admitted to London’s Colney Hatch Asylum, exhibiting symptoms that doctors defined as “mental stress.” For the past three weeks, she was, according to her case notes, “noisy and restless … she gets little sleep … it is difficult to persuade… Read more →

Sex, Secrecy, and Abuse in a 19th-Century Workhouse

“He asked him if he had seen the doctor having connection with a nurse.” Archives pose constant distractions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve mentally stored away a snippet not directly relevant to the task at hand, but to be used somewhere, at some indefinable point in the future. It’s one of… Read more →

Ghosts are Scary, Disabled People are Not: The Troubling Rise of the Haunted Asylum

This past spring, the defunct Willard Psychiatric Center (previously known as the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane) in Ovid, New York, opened its doors for tours — one day only, with no advance sale tickets. I immediately made plans to make the two-hour drive — after all, for the past few years, I’ve been working… Read more →