The History of Asylums

Love a bit of history…

The Psych Talk

The first asylums often included people that were seen as a nuisance to society along with those that were mentally unwell. This included criminals, prostitutes, beggars and those that were unemployed (Conrad & Schneider, 1992). That created a chaotic environment where it was difficult to determine who was fit for work and who was not which later resulted in an institutional diversification where prisons, workhouses, almshouses and madhouses were created. Before the madhouse act of 1774, asylums were often run by non-licenced practitioners for profit – they often had little regard for the patients.

Separation and confinement of the ‘mad’ came with its own issues. A particular issue was the lack of a proper treatment. A scale of wellness was not established so those with severe difficulties were alongside those with milder symptoms. The treatments that were given were often cruel and ineffective. They included blood-letting, forced vomiting and the…

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