"Fit objects for an asylum": The Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum and its patients, 1852-1899


Burt, Susan Margaret (2003) "Fit objects for an asylum": The Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum and its patients, 1852-1899. University of Southampton, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Doctoral Thesis .

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Description/Abstract

This research uses the records of the Hampshire County Asylum (HCA) between its
opening in 1852 and the end of the nineteenth century to offer a different perspective
on asylum history. Though it discusses the asylum in legal, medical and social welfare
contexts it focuses on the experience of individuals and their families and the part
played by the HCA in their lives. The perspective and methodology of the research
reflect the recognition of the importance of individual experience in the construction
of historical exposition.

In the course of the research a database of patients' personal information was
constructed from asylum records. The resulting analysis of individual experience of
admission to the HCA suggests that, for many patients, admission was short-term and
temporary, caused by a combination of symptoms and events that erupted into crisis.
For others the HCA provided a level of care that could not be sustained at home and
for some an asylum admission was only part of a wider and continuing strategy of care
which enabled troubled families to continue to function.

The thesis concludes that, although the county asylum was a potent symbol of many
aspects of Victorian society, it should be seen, not as defining those who encountered
it, but as a part, sometimes essential but often small, of their personal and family
narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences
ePrint ID: 194555
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2011 15:45
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 19:44
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/194555

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