Posted by: thedawsonrewatch | November 4, 2012

Henry Hering Photography

I wanted to share a link to this interesting article in the Daily Mail about institutionalized women and photography. While the article has a rather broad scope, briefly discussing the experiences of women institutionalized in the 1960s, it is notable for what it says about the treatment of women in the medical profession.

My maternal Grandmother was employed at a large Kirkbride style asylum in New York and at that time it wasn’t uncommon for women to be put away for non-specific woes such as hysteria, lunacy, or personality disorders. One recent example from popular culture is Chloe Sevigny’s character on “America Horror Story: Asylum” who as seemingly been institutionalized for liking sex too much. 


  1. Very interesting and scary article. Although I know that it couldn’t happen today (or could it) I can’t help but be wary of the ways in which our political figures try and control the female body.

  2. One case really stood out for me in this article: the servant Eliza who, in 1857, was admitted to the insane asylum with a horrible disease known as “overwork.” Does the author of the article intend to mock this diagnosis? Granted, it’s not exactly a modern medical term. Nowadays, in fact, we tend to scoff at the famously outdated notion that women could be physically or mentally damaged by too much exertion. But I wonder if the quoted statistics on modern day mental illness can be reconciled with “Victorian efforts to understand the mind.” Indeed, the statistics suggest that overwork is and remains a disease in our society–one with serious physical and social effects. Given that modern women are expected to work in both public and private spheres, and that the public sphere where they compete was built with men in mind, perhaps it is not surprising that today’s women are statistically more likely to suffer from symptoms like Miss Eliza’s.

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