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Mental Health on this Day in History

number60

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On 5th May 1933 the first residents moved into Borocourt Certified Institution for Mental Defectives - a converted Victorian mansion. A certified institution was an alternative to larger Mental Hospitals as detailed in The Mental Deficiency Act 1913 which made provisions for the institutional treatment of people with learning difficulties or those who were deemed as needing moral protection.

The institution started fairly small but over the years additional villas were added, and by 1939 it had 400 beds, and became Borocourt Hospital. It was near Reading in Berkshire and took people from Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

By the time those in power realised that such a large institution, with not enough staff, was not the way to care for such vulnerable people a lot of damage had been done as can be seen in the Youtube Video above. It was part of the ITV series Silent Minority which shone a light on the care or lack of it in such institutions.

Anyway it was closed as were most such institutions in the 1990s. The name Borocourt was dropped and it reverted to the name of the original Victorian Mansion, Wyfold Court luxury housing.

Thankyou again to The Mental Health Timeline for the date and details of the 1913 act.
 
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number60

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Sigmund Freud was born on 6th May 1856. He was born in Austria. His birth name was Sigismund but he preferred Sigmund. He was a clever child and could have been a lawyer but decided to study medicine instead. Freud studied the sex lives of eels but could not find their sexual organ. He then went on to study neurology with Charcot who was interested in hysteria.

Freud became the founder of psychoanalysis, and best known for his idea that our unconscious mind controls a lot of what we do. He thought that we repress things into our unconscious as a defense mechanism. But the unconscious mind can reveal its secrets in dreams and slips of the tongue.

He saw sexual desire as a primary motivational energy of human beings although that too can get repressed. Children went through a series of psycho sexual stages of development (oral, anal, phallic) and some got fixated at an earlier stage with consequent effects on behaviour. He thought that young boys wanted to kill their fathers and have sex with their mothers but when the boy realised the father was too powerful this thought got repressed - the Oedipus Complex.

His therapeutic techniques involved getting people to lie on a couch and talk. The relationship between therapist and patient allowed transference where the therapist becomes a representation of an important figure from the patient's past, possibly father or mother.

Freud went on to see the mind divided into the primitive id with its desires, the super-ego with its conscience, with the ego - the rational part - trying to mediate between id and superego. He wrote a lot of books, and that got his ideas very well known.

Hitler did not like him because Freud was Jewish, and a psychoanalyst - two of Hitlers biggest hates. Hitler's followers burnt Freud's books. Freud had to come to England for his own safety. Four of his sisters died in Nazi concentration camps.

Freud died in Hampstead in 1939 but his ideas lived on in his books and through other psychoanalysts. His ideas are still controversial and often difficult to verify scientifically.

Image from File:Id ego superego.png
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
 
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number60

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In the parliamentary record, Hansard, it can be seen on 10th May 1989 that the Schizophrenia After-Care Bill was moved by Lord Mottistone and discussed in the House of Lords. The draft legislation had been put together by Lord Mottistone and the charity Rethink. The proposed legislation, aimed at improving aftercare by making responsibilities clear, was passed in the House of Lords but defeated in the House of Commons.

This bill is mentioned in the Rethink Mental Illness Timeline

and Hansard

Rethink say that despite this defeat, the bill moved schizophrenia up the public agenda. The picture of the House of Lords is taken from today in parliament (2018) where they were discussing Brexit not HospitalExit.
 
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number60

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On 11th May 1857 Sir Charles Locock first described the successful use of potassium bromide therapy in sixteen cases of epilepsy. Bromide was known to reduce sexual libido. (There have been more recent urban myths that bromide gets added to the tea of the army to cut down army sex drives.) Locock thought that the chemical compound helped with epilepsy because it led to temporary impotence and stopped sexual excitement which he thought caused seizures. He may not have known how it worked but the chemical was used with some success in the 19th century and into the 20th century until better treatments were found. Potassium Bromide was not ideal as it stays in the body a long time, and is toxic over time. Later on it was found that epilepsy was accompanied by a nervous discharge in the brain.

Thanks to the British Newspaper archive for the image. All Rights Reserved. And to the APA History of Psychology for the date.
 

number60

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On 12th May 1868 the Freemans journal described an inquest at Richmond District Asylum into the death of James McEntee. A number of the patients were employed getting coal for the institution on Saturday afternoon, when one of them in a fit of frenzy struck McEntee with a heavy spade on the back of the head. The resident medical officer attended immediately, and a surgeon was sent for and arrived within half an hour. But because of the seriousness of the injury, involving a severe fracture of the skull, nothing could be done to save McEntee.

According to the resident medical superintendent at the asylum, the patient who inflicted the fatal blow was deemed to be of unsound mind, and before the occurrence had always been considered of a quiet and inoffensive disposition, and had never shown any violent tendencies.

(Thanks to British Newspaper Archive. All Rights Reserved)

P.S If the forum administrator would like to move this thread to members journals I could continue it there. I feel it gets in the way of more important threads and may have not chosen the right place in the forum when I started doing it.
 
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number60

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According to Lisa Morton's Book 'Ghosts: A Haunted History' a new area of psychology appeared around 1925 called Parapsychology - the study of paranormal phenomena. It grew out of the earlier investigation of psychic phenomena, which involved debunking fraudulent mediums and investigating haunted places. One such investigator was Dr Nandor Fodor born on 13th May 1895. He started off as an investigator of psychic phenomena and published The Encyclopedia of Psychic Science in 1934 - it became the standard reference book for paranormal and psychic phenomena.

However he soon became interested in psychoanalysis, and upset other psychic investigators by considering such phenomena as having a psychological basis. The poltergeist is not a ghost. It is a bundle of projected repressions, he stated in a paper on poltergeists.

He went on to become more psychoanalyst than psychic investigator. More of him at Wikipedia.
 
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number60

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On 14th May 1837 the Leicestershire County Asylum was opened with 104 patients. It originally housed patients from Leicester Borough and Leicestershire. They were joined by patients from Rutland, and then those from Leicester Borough went to a separate asylum as space was limited. A larger asylum was built in 1908 and the original County Asylum closed. The building was then used as a hospital during WWI, and became the administrative building for Leicester University.

There is an online community project set up to investigate life at both the county and borough asylums, and from it one gets a quite different impression of Victorian Asylums than usual. They suggest 'from its beginnings, Leicestershire Lunatic Asylum was intended to be a progressive, compassionate institution whose main aim was to cure people of mental ill-health, rather than to isolate and detain them.'

Also as there was not medication in those days 'therapy focused on their being provided with a place of safety and a routine of healthy living. Patients were given three good meals a day; they were kept busy in the workshops, laundry, gardens or on the asylumโ€™s farm; and their leisure consisted of weekly dances, sports and county walks.'

To find out more visit About Leicestershire County Asylum

Thankyou to The Mental Health Timeline for the date.

The image is from wikipedia and used under Creative Commons and shows The Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester.jpg. Thomas Fielding Johnson, a wealthy local businessman, purchased the building and gave it to the University.
 
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number60

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According to the Today in the History of Psychology , on 15th May 1962 the term learning disabilities first appeared in print in the first edition of Samuel A. Kirk's book, Educating Exceptional Children.

The book was intended to develop a healthy realistic understanding of the exceptional life of individual with disabilities. Topics include multicultural and bilingual issues, learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, communication disorders, hearing impairment, visual impairment, physical disabilities, and giftedness.
 
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number60

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According to the Mental Health Timeline, the First Middlesex County Asylum opened on 16th May 1831 at Hanwell.

By 1834 it contained 600 patients, and commanded an extensive and enlivening view. The apartments were well laid out, warmed and ventilated. The gentle curve of the buildings allowed more sunlight into the rooms than previous asylum designs.

The window frames were made of iron instead of wood. So that any restraint was well hidden.

As far as possible, given the need for security, patients could go about without realising they were in a sort of prison.
 
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number60

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On the 19th May 1929 an article about Dr Alfred Adler, the Austrian Psychiatrist, appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (image from www.newspapers.com All Rights Reserved).

It goes on to say how people in 1929 were increasingly knowledgeable about psychology. "The individual who formerly suffered from "nerves" or was "not all there" has now become psychothenic, neurathenic, psychopathic, manic_depressive and dozens of other names."

It says that with all these new names and ideas that the psychologists and psychiatrists are becoming the great men of that time. "Towering above the whole brood of petty, mediocre, and even great psychologists is Dr Alfred Adler... who discovered the inferiority complex."

There follows an interview with the great man himself. He compares peaceful life in Austria with the more frenetic life of New York citizens, and suggests it would do all of them good to spend two months a year in peaceful Austria.

He goes on to explain that an inferiority complex can be something that motivates people. It affects the bossy, overbearing person as much as the shy, timid person. The former are just overcompensating.

He says that striving to overcome a perceived inferiority can also turn out great artists and scientists who put all their energy into compensating for their perceived failure. But on the whole Adler sees the feeling of inferiority as harmful, as it is usually anti-social. So he tries to affect cures particularly in children.

Thanks to David Webb's book On this Day in Psychology for pointing out the date.
 
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number60

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The poet John Clare died at 4:55pm on 20th May 1864 in Northampton General Asylum, in which he had been many years an inmate.

John was born in the village of Helpstone, and his father was a farm labourer. John, a gifted boy, paid for his own schooling in the evening by work as a ploughboy in the day. On being shown Thomson's poetry book Seasons, Clare worked extra to get a shilling and then walked miles to buy a copy he was so excited by the poems, and started to write his own poetry. He knew country ways, and birds and animals better than any poet, and wrote of these, and of love. He had loved and lost his first love, as her father banned the poor ploughboy from seeing his daughter, and then married his second love, and had a number of children. His poems got good reviews and he became well known as the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet, and earned money from his writing. The way was not always smooth.

He wrote in one poem I love to walk the fields; they are to me A legacy no evil can destroy.

But then the hallucinations began which gradually got worse until those who loved him decided that some restraint was needed and he was sent to a private asylum in High Beach, Essex from 1837โ€“41 (pictured above). So he was taken from the village and the life he loved so well.

He escaped and walked the 80 miles back to his home village and tried to find his first sweetheart, for whom he still had a lasting obsession. But she had died in a fire while he was at the asylum. He stayed at the village for some months until his wife and other decided that he needed care again, and he was taken to Northampton General Asylum where he lived for the rest of his life. He continued to write poetry, making perfect sense in verse, whereas he apparently made little sense otherwise. There was thought to be madness in the family as the cause of insanity was put down as hereditary by one doctor, and too much poesy by another.

Thankyou to the obituary in The Bedfordshire Times and Independent - 4th June 1864 for some of the details, and the illustrated London News for the picture of High Beach - found in the British Newspaper Archive. All Rights Reserved. Thankyou to the Mental Health Timeline for the date.
 
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number60

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Hans Berger, the inventor of the Electroencephalogram, was born on 21st May 1873. He was interested in finding whether physical activity in the brain correlated with the thoughts that go on in our head. He was once nearly run over, and his sister immediately became concerned about his health. So Berger began to wonder whether psychic energy had been transmitted to her in some way.

He trained as a psychiatrist and his investigations led him to try to measure what was going on in the brain by attaching two electrodes to the surface of the head and connecting them with a string galvanometer. He called it an Electroencephalogram. By this means he detected regular fluctuation in current at about 10 cycles a second when the person was resting. The rhythm became more difficult to measure if the person was aroused. Berger called this the alpha rhythm or resting rhythm. According to wikipedia he was a modest man, and fellow doctors and psychiatrists thought him a bit of a crank. But then some years later his measurements were authenticated by scientists in England, and the Electroencephalogram became of great interest in brain research. Now he is known as the inventor of the Electroencephalogram and the person who discovered alpha waves.

Thanks to the APA Historical Database for this date.

The Image is thanks to Wikimedia Commons, and shows the brain-wave analyzer in the film Back to the Future. (File:Back to the Future - brain-wave analyzer (22754625275).jpg)
 
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number60

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On 22nd May 1918, one hundred years ago, The Falkirk Herald reported the case of William Lambert who had been arrested after failing to return to his ship. When tried at Falkirk Sheriff's court it was reported that Lambert had been in the naval service for close on nine years. He took part in the Dardanelles campaign from the beginning, and after the evacuation was taken to an asylum, suffering from some mental trouble. He continued to have lapses of memory and forgot about going back to his ship. The Sheriff said he would allow Lambert to go, and strongly advised him to put himself under further medical care, and to tell the military of his mental troubles. Furthermore he should avoid drink.

Lambert said he was doing his best to make ends meet by working. But he often took ill after just a few days, and when he told people he had been in an institution they would not employ him anymore. The Sheriff said he was unable to do anything else to help Lambert.

This picture comes from the Wellcome Collection , a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. It shows Evacuation at the Dardanelles. The article is summarised from British Newspaper Archive.
 
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number60

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Timothy Bright was a Doctor of Physicke and a man of the church, who wrote what is thought to be the first book about Mental Illness in the English Language. Bright's Treatise of Melancholy was published on 23rd May 1586.

Melancholy was a fashionable malady in Elizabethan times which Bright suggested had two forms: natural melancholy involved a disordered condition of the body due to excess of black bile which led to the spirit being sad. There was also unnatural melancholy, arising from a disordered physical condition of black bile itself where "the whole force of the spirit closed up in the dungeon of melancholy darkness, imagining all as dark, black and full of fear."

Whether William Shakespeare had read the work is not known for sure. In one account I read that the aspiring playright was asked to proof read Bright's book. Melancholy affects many of Shakespeare's characters including Hamlet, Pericles, and Jaques (from As you Like It).

Hamlet says 'How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
'

Pericles says "The sad companion, dull-eyed melancholy,
Be my so used a guest as not an hour,
In the day's glorious walk, or peaceful night,
The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me quiet?
"

Jaques says "I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and, indeed, the sundry contemplation of my
travels; in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness."


This image (above) of the front of the treatise comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. The date is from David Webb's book On this day in Psychology.
 
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number60

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"May the twenty-fourth, nineteen twenty, Ottington Street, Wolling Road, Camberwell. This is where my life began..."

On 24th May 1920, Joseph Deacon was born.

Tongue Tied by Joseph Deacon is a book that looks at living in an old style mental hospital from a patient's point of view.

Joseph Deacon was a resident in St Lawrence's Hospital in Caterham in Surrey. Its catchment area was London so patients came a long way from their homes to be there. Joseph lived there from 1928 until 1981.

Joseph had cerebral palsy, affecting all four limbs and his speech and was unable to communicate until he met Ernie Roberts, another resident with cerebral palsy. Years later they decided, with the encouragement of their Charge Nurse in Male C1 ward, to write Joseph's story down. Ernie listened to Joey's utterances and repeated them to be written down and then typed very slowly. As a result of the book Joey and his friends became celebrities in the hospital and the minor celebrities in the wider world. His story was published by the National Society for the Mentally Handicapped.

Some episodes from the book were made into a Horizon film in 1974 (youtube extract above).

Here is just one short paragraph from the book... "We had a new nurse called Violet Morley in our ward. She fed me with rhubarb pudding and all the boys made me laugh. And when I laughed I spat all the rhubarb over Vie's apron, but she wasn't cross with me. I would not have blamed her if she was cross with me, she only put on a new apron. I could not apologise to her as I cannot talk. Nurse Violet is still working in the card factory."
 
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