I’ll periodically be posting 86 reasons why you may have found yourself committed to an asylum back in the late 1800s. This timeframe is a bit earlier than my novel ‘The Bird Box’ but many of the reasons would have still been used as legitimate criteria for committal.
Let me know when you think you may have been escorted through the gates to join Jakie and the rest of the characters in ‘The Bird Box’.
Are You Insane? No? Well, you just might be by the time we get to the end of the list. 86 reasons why you may have been committed to an Insane Asylum in the late 1800s.
Reason # 1 – Intemperance and Business Trouble
These two problems were listed together so I’m assuming you had to be presenting both at the same time in order to be committed for this one. Had a bad day at work? Might want to think twice about snuggling up with a glass of wine once you get home.
Reason # 2 – Kicked in the head by a horse.
Yes, I can see how this one could have gone badly for all concerned. I do think the horse might have needed to be committed as well, though.
I have been kicked by a horse. More than once. Different horse each time. It hurts. Thankfully I was never kicked in the head which seems to keep me free of the asylum for this week! How about you?
Reason #3 – Hereditary Predisposition
Now this reason would have had a very far-reaching and terrifying arc. Can you imagine the trepidation people would have lived under knowing they had in their lineage someone who had been committed to an asylum?
Apparently such an event would present proof of their own possible instability if they were to begin acting in ways that made others uncomfortable.
Is it any wonder that families were so inclined to hide the fact that one of their own had been institutionalized? Just when we begin to think it obvious to negatively judge the behaviours of those who willingly abandoned less fortunate family members committed to the asylums, we see that perhaps such decisions were not arrived at quite so heartlessly.
Reason #4 – Ill Treatment By Husband
I recognized the roots of this reason quite often as I researched patients’ files for my novel ‘The Bird Box’. How terribly sad to think that women were sometimes subjected to such terrible treatment within their own homes that they were forced to seek asylum in a mental institution.
This was, however, the reality of the times where an abused wife had nowhere else to turn for help and lived in a society that willingly turned a blind eye to her suffering.
We meet one such woman in ‘The Bird Box’ and I guarantee her story alone will open your eyes and heart to the injustices so often silently endured by those who were committed into the early asylums.
Reason #5 – Imaginary Female Trouble
Oh. Wow. This ‘reason’ would have been like a big empty barrel ready to swallow up any poor woman (or girl) who displayed symptoms that were beyond the scope of societies’ or the medical establishment’s understanding.
‘We don’t know what’s wrong with you– so it must be all in your head. Into the looney-bin with you!’
Although this reason is from the late 1800’s it is painfully close to the way many women’s ailments are still treated today where a multitude of symptoms are still defined as ‘women’s issues’ and quickly prescribed a liberal dose of antidepressants.
Makes me wonder how far we have really advanced with this one.