Patients who could not be cured were released. But an outpouring of public sympathy enabled further wards to be built for the incurable so that they could be put back in.
It was a money making business. Families had to pay a fee and establish that their mad family member was also poor. Bedlam became a tourist attraction; Samuel Pepys took his two nephews on a day out. It was argued that tourists not only provided fees but their visits helped to supervise the inmates.
There was competition in the asylum business from the York Retreat established in 1796 by the Quakers who had no medical training and tried kindness, which was quite successful.
In 1815, an enquiry found inmates who were kept in cells semi-naked with just a blanket. It was explained that these were the incontinents, clothing just made matters worse. Also, one American sailor was said to have been locked in a cage for 10 years as he had wrists too thin for manacles. In fact, it was 9 years, it was not a cage, it was a cell, his arms were pinned to his side and a chain was around his neck so that he could be dragged nearer to the cell door for inspection and other purposes.
In 1845, parliament appointed Lunacy Commissioners to oversee asylums.
In 2004, parliament appointed a Legal Services Commissioner to oversee lawyers. We had hoped for kindness.
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