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The Asylum’s treatment regime consisted of rest and routine. Patients were fed a nourishing diet, given fresh air and exercise, and kept occupied if possible with work and entertainments. Mechanical restraint - usually defined as a straitjacket, was seldom used, as the practice had begun to be challenged in the 1840s. Any use of restraint had to be recorded in a special register. In keeping with the concept of the Asylum as a refuge, the Victorians also believed that admission in itself was treatment, as it would remove a patient from the causes of insanity in their day-to-day lives, such as worry or emotional excitement.
There were very few medical interventions used, although both sedatives and purgatives were administered. Many of the patients were admitted with malnutrition or other physical debilities, and these were treated at the same time as a patient's mental health. The regime worked for a substantial proportion of patients: around a third of those admitted between 1870 and 1914 were discharged recovered.
Patients worked on the farm and in the gardens and laundry, and did cleaning, sewing, and shoemaking, which acted as early forms of occupational therapy. If their condition improved, they were gradually given greater freedoms, progressing from walking round the outside airing courts to going on supervised walks and outings.
Those patients who had recovered enough to go home were discharged on probation and given a monetary allowance so that they did not have to find work immediately. They were discharged after a month if they managed to cope in the outside world.
Founding the Asylum
Patients in Victorian Fair Mile
Early years at Fair Mile
1 response(s) so far…
Lynn DavisPosted on the : 3 Aug 2011
I found this gallery very informative. In my FH research I have found a relative who died at Cholsey in 1900 and I think quite a lot of the general information will probably apply to the Portsmouth Asylum where my gt grandfather died in 1907. Thank you for making these archives available. I hope to be contacting you for more information in due course - if I can't find it on the webpage.
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