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Life in the Victorian Asylum reconstructs the lost world of the nineteenth century public asylums. This fresh take on the history of mental health reveals why county asylums were built, the sort of people they housed and the treatments they received, as well as the enduring legacy of these remarkable institutions. Mark Stevens, the best-selling author of Broadmoor Revealed, is a professional archivist and expert on asylum records. In this book, he delves into Victorian mental health archives to recreate the experience of entering an asylum and being treated there, perhaps for a lifetime. Praise for Broadmoor Revealed 'Superb,' Family Tree magazine 'Detailed and thoughtful,' Times Literary Supplement 'Paints a fascinating picture,' Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine
This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license. This book explores how the body was investigated in the late nineteenth-century asylum in Britain. As more and more Victorian asylum doctors looked to the bodily fabric to reveal the ‘truth’ of mental disease, a whole host of techniques and technologies were brought to bear upon the patient's body. These practices encompassed the clinical and the pathological, from testing the patient's reflexes to dissecting the brain. Investigating the Body in the Victorian Asylum takes a unique approach to the topic, conducting a chapter-by-chapter dissection of the body. It considers how asylum doctors viewed and investigated the skin, muscles, bones, brain, and bodily fluids. The book demonstrates the importance of the body in nineteenth-century psychiatry as well as how the asylum functioned as a site of research, and will be of value to historians of psychiatry, the body, and scientific practice.
The Victorian lunatic asylum has a special place in history. Dreaded and reviled by many, these nineteenth-century buildings provide a unique window on how the Victorians housed and treated the mentally ill. Despite initially good intentions, they became warehouses for society's outcasts at a time when cures were far fewer than hoped for. Isolated, hidden in the countryside and surrounded by high walls, they were eventually distributed throughout Britain, the Empire, the Continent and North America, with 120 or so in England and Wales alone. Now the memory of them is fading, and many of the buildings have gone or are threatened. Most have been closed as hospitals since the 1980s and either been demolished or turned into prestigious private apartments, their original use largely forgotten. Their memory deserves rehabilitation as a fascinating part of Victorian life that survived into modern times. In The Victorian Asylum, Sarah Rutherford gives an insight into their history, their often imposing architecture, and their later decline, and brings to life these haunting buildings, some of which still survive today.
How did the Victorians view mental illness? After discovering the case-notes of women in Victorian asylums, Diana Peschier reveals how mental illness was recorded by both medical practitioners and in the popular literature of the era, and why madness became so closely associated with femininity. Her research reveals the plight of women incarcerated in 19th century asylums, how they became patients, and the ways they were perceived by their family, medical professionals, society and by themselves.
Fair Mile was more than just a psychiatric hospital; it was an example of a nationwide network of "pauper lunatic asylums," born of responsible Victorian legislation and compassion for the disadvantaged. It was a secure home to many of its patients and staff, and the community within its walls became an integral part of Cholsey, touching almost every household in the area. Drawing on county records, first-hand accounts, and archive photographs, Fair Mile Hospital describes the ethos of the Victorian asylum builders and the development of the facility that treated thousands of patients over four generations. Relating changes in practice and personnel, and the difficulties of two world wars, this is a unique account of a hospital that did its utmost for those in its care.
This interdisciplinary collection of essays assembles historians, health economists, anthropologists, and sociologists, who examine the history of suicide from a variety of approaches to provide crucial insight into how suicide differs across nations, cultures, and time periods.

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