Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Categories: Health and Medicine | History

The eerie vintage photographs show women who turned out to be patients at the notorious Bethlem Royal Hospital. This establishment received the “popular” name Bedlam, which over time became a household name. They tried to cure patients here by spinning them on chairs in front of paying visitors.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Most of the London hospital's patients were diagnosed with acute mania, and some were admitted there after a murder. The famous institution, which was the first in Europe to specialize in the treatment of mental patients and was the subject of the 1946 film Bedlam, was founded in 1247 during the reign of Henry III.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

One of the institution’s know-how was the use of the treatment method of Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles Darwin, - rotation therapy, during which the patient was seated on a chair suspended in the air, which was rotated around an axis for several hours.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

In the 18th and 19th centuries, patients were kept in cold baths, starved, and beaten. During this violent period, Quaker philanthropist Edward Wakefield visited Bedlam in 1814 and described seeing naked, chained and starved patients there.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

A distinctive feature of Bedlam was its accessibility to the general public, since wealthy patrons could pay money to gaze at the unfortunate people imprisoned in the mental hospital. The hospital moved several times. In those days, women were easily declared insane and taken to a psychiatric hospital, where they were abandoned.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Typically, women were imprisoned in a madhouse for various diseases and symptoms that today are not considered manifestations of insanity. Often these unfortunates suffered from postpartum depression, alcoholism or senile dementia, or committed a social offense - for example, cheating on their husbands - and for this they were sent to Bedlam. At that time, it was believed that women were especially at risk of mental illness caused by disorders in the body's reproductive system.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Women who occupied a lower position in society and had less power and money were more defenseless, so they were sent to the madhouse if they bothered their husbands. Photographer Henry Goering photographed Bedlam patients between 1846 and 1858 to study their faces for signs of mental illness.

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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Portraits of “troubled girls” - inhabitants of Bedlam

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