Saturday, August 22, 2015

Quoted: Barbara Taylor on the perception of mental illness in women vs men

The division between crazy and sane is gender-biased, with behaviors deemed bad in men often labeled mad in women. Throughout the Victorian period, asylum-keepers complained about the unladylike conduct of their female inmates and made strong efforts to suppress this. Female patients in mid-nineteenth century Bethlem were put in solitary confinement in the basement "on account of being violent, mischievous, dirty, and using bad language," while at Coney Hatch between 1865 and 1874 women "were sedated, given cold baths, and secluded in padded cells up to five times as frequently as male patients." Female wards were "noiser" and more "refractory" than male wards, it was said. -- Barbara Taylor from The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Time