Sent to the asylum: Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety
2012 05 15
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
Stop creating a climate of fear!
2014 08 27
ok. listen up political correct people! if you’re someone who reflexively calls others “racists” or “neofascists” without first checking into whether or not they actually are, you need to STOP it, because you’re creating a climate of fear in which people are afraid to do their jobs.
and now i’m not talking about some academics sitting comfortably in their ivy towers, ...
Gov. Jerry Brown to Mexican Illegals: ’You’re All Welcome in California’
2014 08 27
On Monday evening, California Governor Jerry Brown said all Mexicans, including illegal immigrants, are welcome in California.
According to the Los Angeles Times, while introducing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who said America is "the other Mexico," Brown "spoke about the interwoven histories of Mexico and California." He "nodded to the immigrants in the room, saying it didn’t matter if ...
Election Posters in New Sweden
2014 08 27
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has promised continued mass immigration at the expense of welfare reform and tax cuts. Reinfeldt’s Moderates party consequently does everything in their power to recruit immigrants’ votes. Placards for the forthcoming elections, widely distributed in immigrant-dominated enclaves in Sweden, has Arabic text, the language that now increasingly is dominating major parts of "New Sweden."
In the ...
2014 08 27
Gender Madness - RT
RT: "Tanya, a mathematician from Sweden, is writing a blog about gender madness. She wants to find its origins. She discusses the topic with different people, meets some gender specialists and even considers conducting some experiments."
Yes, this is a very erratic and "different" short film, but Kajsa Bergkvist, the girl making the film has a ...
Could Greece’s mystery tomb lie intact? Well-preserved headless sphinxes
2014 08 27
Well-preserved headless sphinxes hint that grave dating back to Alexander the Great
Archaeologists are hopeful that an ancient mound in northern Greece could hold the untouched remains of an important senior official from the time of Alexander the Great.
Excavations at the ‘incredibly important’ tomb have revealed a pair of sphinxes guarding the grave’s entrance.
The two sculptures were found under an arch ...
|More News » |