By Susan Piddock
The heritage of lunatic asylums – what can we particularly learn about them? movies and tv courses have portrayed them as areas of horror the place the sufferers are restricted and left to hear the cries in their fellow inmates in depression. yet what used to be the realm of 19th century lunatic asylums particularly like? Are those pictures real? This ebook will discover this international utilizing the suggestions of old archaeology and historical past.
In the past due eighteenth and early 19th centuries the arrival of latest remedies for madness in response to ethical treatment and non-restraint, and an expanding social information of the stipulations during which the insane have been being stored ended in a brand new specialize in the provisions made for the insane in “madhouses”, lunatic asylums and hospitals. in keeping with this new concentration these attracted to the reform of those locations and the hot remedy regimes started to describe what lunatic asylums can be in the event that they have been going to convey the insane again to sanity. during this ebook a brand new method is built utilizing those descriptions because the foundation of a chain of ‘ideal’ asylum types. A comparability of those ‘ideal’ asylums to the lunatic asylums inbuilt England, South Australia and Tasmania permits us to go into the realm of the 19th century asylum, and to appreciate the consequences of attaining or failing to accomplish the ‘ideal’ asylum on existence inside of those places.
Through the case stories of britain, South Australia, and Tasmania, this e-book seeks to spot the forces at paintings inside of each one society that resulted in the actual provisions being made for the insane in each one position. it is going to be argued that the adoption of the ‘ideal’ asylum good points could be without delay with regards to a few key components, those have been: entry to a pool of information approximately lunatic asylum layout; financial constraints; the remedy mode followed; and social perceptions of who was once to be accommodated within the asylum - paupers, the center classification, the better classification, or convicts.
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The background of lunatic asylums – what will we relatively find out about them? movies and tv courses have portrayed them as locations of horror the place the sufferers are restricted and left to hear the cries in their fellow inmates in depression. yet what used to be the realm of 19th century lunatic asylums quite like?
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Additional info for A Space of Their Own: The Archaeology of Nineteenth Century Lunatic Asylums in Britain, South Australia and Tasmania
Today’s historical archaeologists are studying culture in its widest definition, as “grounded in systems of meaning for which material culture serves as expression, medium, sign or symbol” (Beaudry 1996: 480). This meaning is active and not static. The lunatic asylum as a form of material culture was, and still is, expressive of constantly changing meanings determined by those using the buildings - the patients, visitors and staff - as well as the viewer and beyond them by society as a whole. For those involved in lunacy reform in the early nineteenth century the physical presence of the new lunatic asylums on the landscape was expressive of the possibility of a cure for insanity; for those suffering insanity it may have represented safety and/or the possibility of cure, or it may have been an embodiment of imprisonment and the cutting of family links.
The fundamental point of difference between the two lies in the questions being asked. Lunatic asylums as buildings have not been the focus of research to any degree among historians writing about insanity and the insane. Markus in his book Buildings and Power: freedom and control and the origin of model building types (1993) suggests that well known writers on lunacy such as Andrew Scull and Michel Foucault, cannot see lunatic asylums as “formative objects; they are merely outcomes” (Markus 1993: 130).
Similarly it was thought that the distressing sights of dementia, idiotism, and epilepsy should be kept from other lunatics with separate areas in the hospital for each (Pinel 1806: 176 & 204). This regime could only be supported in the asylum environment, not the patient’s home. The asylum environment then had to support this regime, but Pinel did not, however, describe the features of the environment himself. Later lunacy reformers were to take on this task and develop his ideas. Pinel’s ideas formed a new basis for the treatment of the insane in the last decades of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth.