Posted by: cialci | October 29, 2012

Mental Illness and the Victorian Era

Having started my studies as a psychology major before switching to English, I took almost every required psych class, including Abnormal Psychology.  Of all my classes, this was probably my favorite. The professor was very knowledgeable about the treatment, or lack thereof, for mental illness in the past.  I have often thought about what people did in times past when they or a family member suffered from bi-polar (though it did not yet have a name) disorder or psychosis.  My professor was very knowledgeable about Bedlam, the hospital founded in England centuries ago, and she had us read some pretty harrowing accounts of the way patients were treated.  However, Bedlam was created long before the Victorian Age, and I was curious to see what advancements were made during that time.  I found this site:  I cannot imagine a time when effective medication was not available and treatments were either ineffectual or brutal.  What a frightening experience that must have been for everyone involved. 


  1. The article stated that anorexia was officially recognized as a disease in 1877. It is sad that over 130 years later it is still rampant in our society.

  2. What an interesting site! One thing I’ve always found interesting about models of mental illness treatment is that the “Kirkbride” building plans that we think of as pretty standard creepy asylum type buildings were designed by by a Quaker and built with Quaker principles in mind. The same goes for many early prisons.

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