Insane Asylum: 16 Terrifying Facts of Mental Asylums in Early 20th Century
16 Terrifying Facts About Mental Asylums in the Early 20th Century

16 Terrifying Facts About Mental Asylums in the Early 20th Century

Trista - March 2, 2019

16 Terrifying Facts About Mental Asylums in the Early 20th Century
Sewing workroom at an asylum. Inmates of Willard.

1. Many Children Died in Asylums

Perhaps one of the greatest horrors of the “golden age” of the massive public asylums is the countless children who died within their walls. Many children were committed to asylums of the era, very few of whom were mentally ill. Children with epilepsy, developmental disabilities, and other disabilities were often committed to getting them of their families’ hair. These children were treated exactly like adults, including with the same torturous methods such as branding. Due to either security or stigmas of the era, children involuntarily committed were rarely visited by family members and thus had no outside oversight of their treatment.

It is perhaps unsurprising, given these bleak factors, that children had an unusually high rate of death in large state-run asylums. Some of this may be attributable to natural deaths from untreated or under-treated epilepsy. However, one wonders how many more were due to abuse, suicide, malarial infection, and the countless other hazards visited upon them by their time in asylums. The obsession with eugenics in the early 20th century added another horrifying element, with intellectually disabled and “racially impure” children also being institutionalized to help society cleanse itself of the undesirable.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Ranker – 19th-Century Tourists Visited Mental Asylums Like They Were Theme Parks

Timeline – What Exactly Did Mental Asylum Tourists Want to See?

Ranker – What It Was Like to Be A Patient In A US ‘Mental Hospital’ In The Year 1900

Medium – What it Meant to be a Mental Patient in the 19th Century?

Public Broadcast Service – How Nellie Bly Went Undercover to Expose Abuse of The Mentally Ill

Daily Beast – The Daring Journalist Nellie Bly Hasn’t Lost Her Cred in a Century

Wikipedia – Lunatic asylum

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