Madness, gender, and class: the construction of identity and experiences in the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum 1820-1840

Goemans, Robert and Goddard, Rebecca (2017) Madness, gender, and class: the construction of identity and experiences in the Lincoln Lunatic Asylum 1820-1840. In: Reading Bodies, Writing Minds: Mental Health in the Medical Humanities, 13th April 2017, University of Nottingham.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


The Lincoln Lunatic Asylum (LLA) opened in 1820 and, in 1837, became the first asylum in the country to achieve total abolition of mechanical restraint. Through an analysis of the original documents, we are seeking to understand how the construction of identities, including conceptions of gender and class, influenced how people’s madness was constructed and experienced.
Using the records of restraint, we have broken down the overall picture of the reduction in use of mechanical restraint into different pictures depending on gender and class. This data, alongside qualitative depictions of patients within documents such as the House Surgeon’s journal and the records of admission, allows an analysis of how restraint was applied differently to different groups, indicating how late Georgian society constructed gender, class, and madness, and how these interacted to shape people’s experiences in the asylum.
This work situates the dynamics of asylum reform of the early nineteenth century within the shifting social attitudes towards freedoms and identity, and the move of such institutions from private to public spaces. Understanding madness, identity and control in the LLA is directly applicable to investigating how modern society shapes constructions of identity and experiences of madness today.

The LLA Project is a cross-faculty research group at the University of Lincoln involving staff from the School of Health & Social Care and the School of History and Heritage. Its mission is to analyse current practice through a sociological understanding of the past.

Keywords:mental health, madness, History of Medicine, Historical sociology
Subjects:L Social studies > L610 Social and Cultural Anthropology
L Social studies > L500 Social Work
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V320 Social History
L Social studies > L340 Disability in Society
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
A Medicine and Dentistry > A990 Medicine and Dentistry not elsewhere classified
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V321 Local History
L Social studies > L310 Applied Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:29735
Deposited On:25 Nov 2017 16:38

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