Sent to the asylum: Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety
By Wendy Wallace | DailyMail.co.uk
These days, work stress, postnatal depression and anxiety are addressed with compassion. But just a few generations ago, the women who suffered from these conditions, were confined to an asylum.
The compelling portraits shown here, taken by Victorian photographer Henry Hering in the mid-19th century, have a haunting quality.
But apart from the women’s pensive expressions and drab clothing, there is little to indicate that the photographs had been taken in an asylum. If you took away the period gowns and hairstyles, their mournful faces might be looking out of the window of a bus or café today.
Then, however, women could find themselves labelled insane and locked up in madhouses for a range of conditions – from postnatal depression to alcoholism or senile dementia, and even for social transgressions such as infidelity (‘moral insanity’).
Emma Riches. Diagnosis: Insanity caused by childbirth.
Eliza Josolyne. Diagnosis: Insanity caused by overwork
These photographic records exist because some influential doctors, including keen photographer Dr Hugh Diamond, believed that the then new science of photography could help to diagnose mental illness by capturing what he called the ‘exact point that had been reached in the scale of unhappiness’.
The idea that your face could be used to read your mind – and that how you looked in a photo could determine your fate – fascinated and horrified me. I was already interested in mental health. As in most families, there have been mental health issues in mine.
In the late 1960s, my gentle grandmother was plunged into a serious depression after the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack. A daring and sporty young woman, who grew up in a lively family, she found the loneliness and grief of widowhood in her 50s unbearable.
I was 11 or 12 when she became ill; the stigma around mental distress was stronger than it is now and my parents tried to protect me from it. But I noticed how Gran’s round shape changed to a drastically reduced outline and was aware of my parents’ worried conversations about her, of emergency phone calls and sudden dashes to see her in hospital, where, I later found out, she was admitted more than once after attempts on her own life.
Women could find themselves labelled insane and locked up for infidelity
Women were thought to be at particular risk of mental illness caused by supposed disorders of the reproductive system. Cases of melancholia associated with the menopause were treated with leeches to the pubis. The male doctors of the day saw ‘hysteria’ – from the Latin for womb – everywhere; almost any form of behaviour, such as excited chattering with other women, could be diagnosed as hysteria.
Read the full article at: dailymail.co.uk
Novels about women in Bedlam reflect the scary truth
Fictional portrayals of women’s life in the Victorian and Edwardian asylum system are the best way of learning about the harrowing experience of being branded a "lunatic"
For Breivik, insanity tough to prove, hard to fake
20 Natural Ways to Cure Depression, Anxiety, Panic, and Mental Illness
New mental health manual is "dangerous" say experts
Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services
Latest News from our Front Page
UK Police Tell Subjects Not to Harm Their Attackers, Get a Rape Alarm
The latest dispatch from the United Kingdom’s ongoing campaign to eliminate all forms of armed self-defense seems too incredible to be true. Unfortunately, after tracking down the origin of a publicly distributed statement regarding self-defense products on the country’s “Ask the Police” website, we can confirm that British subjects continue to live at the mercy of their potential attackers. Even ...
Activists Plan to Burn American Flags in New York City Ahead of Fourth of July
Burning the flag in Charleston, South Carolina on June 22, 2015
A group calling for the immediate disarmament of the New York Police Department plans to burn American flags in a Brooklyn park on Wednesday, just days before the Fourth of July holiday.
“Disarm NYPD” announced the “Burn the American Flags” event on Facebook, inviting individuals to join the organization at Fort ...
Ruiz: Diversity of New York City languages makes staying involved in kidsâ€™ education difficult for immigrant parents
Immigrant parent seek better translation and interpretation services from the Department of Education at the New York Immigration Coalition.
New Yorkers, who come from every corner of the world, speak 180 languages. Not surprisingly, nearly half of public school students speak a language other than English at home.
This makes life difficult for the city's Department of Education, which, according to federal ...
Ethnic Studies to Become Mandatory in Sacramento Schools by 2016
The fourth most diverse school district in the nation is finally adding an ethnic studies graduation requirementâ€”in 2020.
The Sacramento City Unified School District's Board of Trustees unanimously approved the proposal from its Student Advisory Council on June 4. The proposal will create an ethnic studies pilot program for fall 2016.
In collaboration with community organizations, local university professors and college students, ...
It Begins: New Calls To Strip Churches of Tax Exempt Status After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
For years conservatives and proponents of religious liberty in America have warned that if same-sex marriage became legal, the left would then pursue revoking the tax exempt status for religious institutions, particularly Christian churches, around the country.
Just days after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that gay marriage is a constitutional right, progressive activists like Mark Oppenheimer of ...
|More News » |