25 May 2019

25th May 1957 - Red Cross Picture Library

Reporting on the annual meeting of the Eastbourne division of the British Red Cross Society, The Eastbourne Herald said that patients are helped by pictures in hospitals. Mrs Montford Bebb spoke on the work of the hospital picture section of the society. She began the scheme in 1945 and by 1957 the hospital picture library had 10,0000 prints and served almost 500 institutions. An advisory panel met four times a year to discuss acquisitions.  Mrs Bebb said the sight of pictures on bare walls help patients’ mental outlook, especially when they were in hospital for long periods. For those who were mentally ill or elderly then pictures were a great solace.

Mrs Bebb went on to say that it could also be used as therapy. There was great comfort in beauty whether by ear or eye. In mental homes where patients could be persuaded to take up painting it often helped the doctors to find the cause of their trouble and assist them to recover. Music was also being introduced into these institutions with much success.  Thankyou to British Newspaper Archive for this article. All rights reserved.

24 May 2019

24th May 1920, Joseph Deacon was born

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

The beginning of Tongue Tied by Joseph Deacon, an autobiography 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 unintelligible to most people apart from his closest friends. With the encouragement of his Charge Nurse in Male C1 ward, Joseph began to dictate his autobiography. He was helped by his friends Ernie Roberts (also a cerebral palsy sufferer), Tom Blackburn and others. It took about fourteen months to dictate, and type. His autobiography was published in 1970 under the title 'Tongue Tied' by the National Society for the Mentally Handicapped as part of the 'Subnormality in the Seventies' series..

He later appeared on television programmes such as Horizon and children's programme Blue Peter to raise awareness of cerebral palsy.

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."

23 May 2019

23rd May 1586 - first book about Mental Illness in English

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 fmalady 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."

The date is from David Webb's book On this day in Psychology

22 May 2019

22nd May 2019 - Whorlton Hall Panorama

Panorama again uncovered and showed abuse in a care hospital for people with learning disabilities and autism. The private hospital funded by the NHS was called Whorlton Hall, and the abuse involved mocking, bullying and provocation by staff and then over frequent physical restraint. There were also reports of patients being hit. This happened eight years after Panorama uncovered abuse at Winterbourne View where an undercover reporter filmed residents being kicked, punched, and mocked.

After the Winterbourne View abuse the government commissioned a report that said such institutions should be closed down and that has not happened. Back then there were 3,400 people with learning disabilities or autism in such institutions, far from home. That number is now around 2,300. Such institutions have not yet been consigned to history and replaced with smaller housing in the community as the earlier report recommended.

21 May 2019

21st May 1873 - Hans Berger Born

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.

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

20 May 2019

20th May 1864 - John Clare dies

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 1837–41 . 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 love. 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 others 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 - found in the British Newspaper Archive. Thankyou to the Mental Health Timeline for the date.

First Love's Recollections

First love will with the heart remain
When all its hopes are by,
As frail rose blossoms still retain
Their fragrance till they die;
And joy's first dreams will haunt the mind
With shades from whence they sprung,
As Summer leaves the stems behind
On which Spring's blossoms clung.

Mary, I dare not call thee dear,
I've lost the right so long,
Yet once again I vex thine ear
With memory's idle song.
had time and change not blotted out
The love of former days
Thou wert the last that I should doubt
Of pleasing with my praise.

When honied tokens from each tongue
Told with what truth we loved,
How rapturous to thy lips I clung
Whilst nought but smiles reproved;
But now methinks if one kind word
Were whispered in thy ear
Thou'dst startle like an untamed bird
And blush with wilder fear.

How loath to part, how fond to meet
Had we two used to be;
At sunset with what eager feet
I hastened on to thee.
Scarce nine days passed ere we met
In Spring, nay wintry weather;
Now nine years' suns have risen and set
Nor found us once together.

Thy face was so familiar grown,
Thyself so often by,
A moment's memory when alone
Would bring thee to mine eye;
But now my very dreams forget
That witching look to trace;
Though there thy beauty lingers yet
It wears a stranger face.

I felt a pride to name thy name
But now that pride hath flown,
My words e'en seem to blush for shame
That own I love thee on.
I felt I then thy heart did share
Nor urged a binding vow;
But much I doubt if thou couldst spare
One word of kindness now.

And what is now my name to thee,
Though once nought seemed so dear?
Perhaps a jest in hours of glee
To please some idle ear;
And yet like counterfeits with me
Impressions linger on
Though all the gilded finery
That passed for truth is gone.

Ere the world smiled upon my lays,
A sweeter meed was mine-
Thy blushing look of ready praise
Was raised at every line,
But now methinks thy fervent love
Is changed to scorn severe
And songs that other hearts approve
Seem discord to thine ear.

When last thy gentle cheek I pressed
And heard thee feign adieu,
I little thought that seeming jest
Would prove a word so true.
A fate like this hath oft befell
E'en loftier hopes than ours;
Spring bids full many buds to swell
That ne'er can grow to flowers.

John Clare (all rights reserved)

19 May 2019

19th May 1929 - Dr Alfred Adler Interview

On the 19th May 1929 an article about Dr Alfred Adler, the Austrian Psychiatrist, appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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 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. Detail of the interview can be found at newspapers.com.

18 May 2019

18th May 1814 - Norfolk County Asylum opened

On 18th May 1814 the Norfolk County Asylum opened near Norwich. It was the third oldest county asylum after Nottinghamshire and Bedfordshire. But Norwich had a hundred year history of asylum provision at the charitable asylum at Bethel, and so the new county asylum was additional.

From 1808 counties were encouraged to build county asylums after the '1808 Act for the better Care and Maintenance of Lunatics, being Paupers or Criminals in England' . In 1845 County Asylum building became compulsory.

The building of the Norfolk County Asylum in Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew in 1814 allowed room for around 140 patients.  It had an administration block at the centre and accommodation flanking it on either side. For males on one side there were: single and double cells, day-rooms and airing courts for convalescents, lunatics, and incurables. There was a similar arrangement for females on the other side of the admin block.This allowed for the segregation of the sexes and communication within the Asylum.

A nearby site, connected by a bridge, was added in 1881 allowing first 700 and then 1000 patients.

More details are available at http://www.geograph.org.uk/article/The-Norfolk-Lunatic-Asylum---St-Andrews-Hospital. Thankyou to British Newspaper Archive for the date. Reading the Norfolk Chronicle on 7th May 1814 ...

THE Committee of Visiting Justices for managing the NORFOLK LUNATIC ASYLUM, lately erected at Thorpe, intend Meeting Saturday, the 14th day May next precisely, at twelve o'clock, at the Shirehouse, to receive proposals for serving the Asylum from the 18th day of May next, to Midsummer following, with BEEF and MUTTON. FLOUR and BREAD. BEER. GROCERY. More details was given of these provisions. Although grocery is left to the grocer as it says GROCERY. - Good Norfolk or Gloster Cheese, Candle, Soap, and all other articles of Grocery necessary for the supply of the House. 

17 May 2019

17th May 1912 - Feeble Minded Persons Control Bill

On 17th May 1912 a private members bill was brought before parliament called the Feeble Minded Persons Control Bill. The object of this bill appeared to be to prevent the increase and propagation of Feeble Minded Persons by controlling their lives. It was an attempt to improve the general population by practising eugenics - the controlled and selective breeding of the human race.

The bill was defeated but in 1913 The Mental Deficiency Act was introduced by government and introduced more categories of persons to be controlled. It ended up sentencing people, who had committed no crime, to imprisonment for life in institutions. To read the debate in Hansard see https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1912/may/17/feeble-minded-persons-control-bill

Thankyou to Mental Health Timeline for the date.

16 May 2019

16th May 1831 - First Middlesex County Asylum opened

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 prison of sorts.

Thankyou to the Mental Health Timeline for the date, and the London Courier and Evening Gazette - Wednesday 18 February 1835 for the description.

15 May 2019

15th May 1962 - learning disabilities first appeared in print

According to Today in Psychology History , 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.

Such terminology is part of the movement made during the last half century to use non-discriminatory language that avoids stereotypes, prejudices, and stigmatised terms.

14 May 2019

14th May 1837 - Leicestershire County Asylum Opened

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 asylum’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 shows The Fielding Johnson Building in the background. Thomas Fielding Johnson, a wealthy local businessman, purchased the building and gave it to the University.

13 May 2019

13th May 1895 - Dr Nandor Fodor born

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. Thankyou to Wikipedia May 13th for the date.

12 May 2019

12th May 1868 - Patient killed by fellow patient

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.

Thankyou to the British Newspaper Archive for the date.

11 May 2019

11th May 1857 - Bromide treats Epilepsy

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.

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

10 May 2019

10th May 1989 - Schizophrenia After-Care Bill in parliament

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.

09 May 2019

9th May 1983 - Royal Assent to Mental Health Act

On 9th May 1983 Royal Assent was given to the 1983 Mental Health Act. This act allows a patient in England and Wales to be detained formally, as opposed to voluntarily, for mental health treatment. Once formally detained the patient looses some of their freedoms. The act also legislates what treatment can be given to formally detained patients. There are a number of sections of the act under which a patient can be detained, and the act details the authority needed to impose a certain section. For example treatment could begin under Section 5(2) a temporary holding order on a voluntary patient.

The act was amended by the later 2007 Mental Health Act. The laws are described in more detail by mind. Thank you for Mental Health Timeline for this date.

08 May 2019

8th May 2013 - Newspapers report Emotion Sensing Phone App

On 8th May 2013 The Daily Mirror (and many other newspapers) reported a free phone app that tracked a person’s mood and that could be used as a pocket therapist. The app Emotion Sense tracked calls and texting patterns and conversations to work out how the user was feeling. It was part of a research project running from  2011-2016.

Mobile phone apps are often being created and evolving. There are a large number of mental health apps now available. For example Moodpath gives a mental health assessment, to track and reflect on your mood, and gives help to escape from negative thoughts and overwhelming emotions. What's Up? uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) methods to help users cope with Depression, Anxiety, Anger, and Stress. Daylio is a Diary, Journal, Mood Tracker. There are lots more,

Thankyou to Mental Health Forum for the date. The report is from the Daily Mirror 

07 May 2019

7th May 1925 - Psychiatrist said modern 1925 conditions produced mental breakdowns

It was reported in the Portsmouth Evening News on 7th May 1925 that Dr. H Devine, the Medical Superintendent of Milton Mental Hospital, delivered an address to the Portsmouth Association for Mental Welfare.

While deprecating the alarmist view of the increase in the recorded cases of insanity, he admitted that modern conditions of civilisation tended to produce mental breakdown in many instances, and made some remarks on the effect of scientific discoveries into the condition of collective neurasthenia or mania which were so noticeable in 1925 modern life. He gave a warning that the stressing of intellect and the neglect of the body might lead us to disaster, and urged the necessity of work to prevent decadence.

Another point the doctor made was that the mentally afflicted should not be regarded as social outcasts. Mental hospitals were institutions where people were admitted with the object of being cured of their disorder, and not permanently repressed. People in 1925 had to get rid of the idea that there was a stigma attaching to treatment in a mental institution. He said that many people were kept out of mental hospitals until they had reached the last stages of insanity. If they were to be cured they should be treated in their early stages, and a proper grading of cases in the hospitals would help to wipe away the fear concerning the institutional treatment of mental disorders.

It was reported, that Portsmouth in 1925 was fortunate in possessing a mental hospital where the most modern ideas for the cure of what was broadly called insanity were practised.

Thankyou to the british newspaper archive for the date and report.

06 May 2019

6th May 1856 - Sigmund Freud was born

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.

Thankyou to Wikipedia May 6th for the dat

05 May 2019

5th May 1933 - Borocourt Opened

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. 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.

04 May 2019

4th May 2016 - Mental Health Champion Axed

On 4th May 2016 the role of Mental Health champion in schools was axed. Natasha Devon had been given the role in August 2015. The government hoped that she would help promote things like peer to peer support at school. But she saw issues in the education system such as excessive testing that did not help mental health, and she tried to tackle these, and publicised her efforts through social media. In the end the role came to an end. See more in the Guardian article mental health champion axed after criticising government.

Thanks to Google for this date.

03 May 2019

3rd May 2008 - UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into effect on 3rd May 2008. Its intention is that disabled people can play their full part in society as a right and not out of charity. The United Kingdom has signed up to this convention as a member of the EU. However a UN report last year criticised the UK for its failure to uphold disabled people's rights. Failures included:

* Increasing poverty among the disabled resulting from benefit cuts
* Disabled people confined at home because of social care cuts
* More people with mental health issues being detained for compulsory community treatment orders
* The loss of adapted vehicles made it more difficult to get about and hold down work
* Disabled children from poorer households more likely to go to special schools

This is a summary of a Guardian article UN panel criticises UK failure to uphold disabled peoples rights.

Thanks to The Mental Health History Timeline for pointing out the date.

The convention can be seen at the un.org website.

02 May 2019

2nd May 1889 - Edgar Arnold Doll was born.

On 2nd May 1889 Edgar Arnold Doll was born. He worked in assessing people with special educational needs and developed the Vineland Social Maturity Scale to measure how well people are to function on their own. Somebody who knows the person well was asked questions to find how well they operate in: self-help generally, self-help eating, self-help dressing, locomotion, occupation, communication, self-direction, and socialisation. At the time it was an innovative way to show how well the person functioned, and what care / support they needed.

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

01 May 2019

1st May 1901 - May Day Celebration in Asylum

On Wednesday evening, 1st May 1901, the Asylum staff and patients celebrated May Day.

A very large number of visitors and patients were present, and in addition to traditional dancing there were two special features.

The first was an old English dance, as used exactly 100 years before. Instead of the usual Brass band of the Institution, the music in this case was played by Miss Edith Williams, on piano; and Miss Louie James, on violin. In the dance several ladies were dressed in old fashioned costumes, which had been faithfully copied from illustrations of the period, and several men were also correctly attired in dress coats, high cravates, knee breeches, white stockings, and each wore a wig of the Georgian period.

The second novelty was 'The Revels' in which a number of the attendants and patients took part, arrayed in different costumes, among them, over 20 were wearing masks illustrating various animals. Two important costumes in this part of the programme were made at the asylum, and were amongst the most successful parts of the evening. We allude to the British Lion and the Dancing Bear. The lion was the work of Mr. Joseph Harnaman, one of the attendants. The Dancing Bear created and led by Mr. Watson in appropriate costume, was a huge success. Its antics created a great deal of merriment.

Thankyou to the North Wales Times from Saturday 04 May 1901 for this piece seen on the British Newspaper archive.

30 April 2019

30th April 1857 - Eugen Bleuler born

Eugen Bleuler was born on 30th April 1857 in Switzerland. He trained as a doctor then as a psychiatrist and was the first to name the grouping of conditions known as schizophrenia - a term which he considered more apt than the term dementia praecox used beforehand. Through observation he noted that schizophrenia did not cause deterioration of mental capacity and so was not a dementia. The term schizophrenia instead implied a splitting or schism of thought, emotion and behaviour in various ways.

Bleuler identified primary and secondary symptoms.

The primary symptoms he called the four As
Affect - flattened or inappropriate emotions for a situation.
Ambivalence - conflicting attitudes and emotions.
Associations - loose thought associations leading to disordered thought.
Autism - social withdrawal.

Bleuler also identified secondary symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. These had been the primary symptoms of dementia praecox.

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

29 April 2019

29th April 1869 - Neurasthenia first used

On 29th April 1869 George Miller Beard published an article in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal where he coined the term neurasthenia. It became an important diagnostic term for almost a century until superseded by today's terminology. Neurasthenia is a disorder of fatigue, physical or mental, that makes it difficult to carry on normal living. The term neurosis is nowadays used more.

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

28 April 2019

28th April 1858 - Susanna Le Fanu died

Susanna Le Fanu died the 28th April 1858. Her exact cause of death is not given. If Sheridan Le Fanu, Irish writer of horror fiction - her husband, even had a suspicion that Susanna had hastened her own death, it would have caused him a great deal of guilt. Date found from google books

27 April 2019

27th April 1982 - Hinckley trial

According to the New York Times, John W. Hinckley Jr. went on trial on 27th April 1982 for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. He was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric institution and has only recently been released to live with his mother, now in her nineties, with strict conditions about his movement and use of the internet and any contact with Jodie Foster.

Hinckley became obsessed with Jodie Foster after becoming obsessed with the film Taxi Driver in which Jodie Foster played a teenage prostitute. Hinckley stalked her when she went to Yale. His attempt to kill Reagan came out of his obsession with Jodie Foster. He hit Reagan with a ricochet, and wounded 3 others.

According to Wikipedia he signed up to a writing course at Yale and slipped things under Foster's door. He wrote before the attempt 'Over the past seven months I've left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself.... The reason I'm going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you.'

This was devastating and deeply depressing to the young Jodie Foster. She had gone to Yale University after being a child star but her anonymity and security was totally shattered by the stalking and subsequent events.

The acquittal by reason of insanity caused a lot of controversy and afterwards some states revised laws about the use of the insanity defence in a criminal prosecution.

In the film Taxi Driver, Travis, the taxi driver, attended a public rally where he planned to assassinate the president.

26 April 2019

26th April 1848 - first learning disability institution opened

On 26th April 1848 The Highgate Asylum for Idiots was opened with its first 8 patients . This was England's first formal institution for people with learning disabilities and was sponsored by some benevolent people, including royalty. It was a charitable organisation that cared for and educated those with learning disabilities especially those of early years. It was intended as a school and as a refuge to prepare students as far as is able for the duties and enjoyment of life.

In an article in the  Illustrated London News they trace some of the perceived causes of learning disabilities from case notes. One child is from a family of thirteen children, the other twelve died from a similar condition. It says that it is sad that some cases have been caused by the bad practice of servants frightening children. The rattling of curtains, and stalking of sheet ghosts to frighten children into obedience can produce great damage, and are to be condemned. Others have been caused by nurses drugging their charges with Godfrey's Cordial and other narcotics.

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive for the details.

Thankyou to the Royal Earlswoood Hospital - A Historical Sketch for the date.

25 April 2019

April 25th 1886 - Freud opens First Practise

Sigmund Freud aspired to become a professor of neurology and had published several important articles in this area, including some articles about cocaine. Then, on April 25th 1886, Freud opened a private practice as a neurologist. This was to be the start or a career in the treatment of nervous diseases. Freud first tried out hypnosis but then developed  the 'talking cure'.

24 April 2019

24th April 2019 - Britney seeks Mental Healing

There were a lot of news stories on 24th April 2019 after Britney checking into a Mental Health Clinic. She tried to put fans worries to rest saying I just needed time to heal. But don’t worry, I’ll be back very soon.

She added: You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you.

23 April 2019

23rd April 1886 - Withered Leaves at Essex County Asylum

I read in the Chelmsford Chronicle - on 23rd April 1886 - that two plays were performed at the Recreation Hall of the Essex County Asylum at Brentwood.

During the winter a series of performances had been presented to relieve the tedium of the winter months and this was the last.

The patients thoroughly enjoyed the plays and followed them with keen and intelligent interest. In the first, a comedy, called Withered leaves, the audience showed unmistakably their sense of right and wrong by vigorously hissing Cecil Vane, the villain of the piece. The Asylum band under Mr Byford played a capital selection of music during the intervals. There then followed an amusing farce called 'Who's to win'.

Loud applause greeted the performers at the close of the performance.

Thanks to the British Newspaper archive for the article and date.

The recreation hall had been added in 1879 at the centre of the main building. More about Essex County Asylum is here

22 April 2019

22nd April 1868 - Caterham Asylum Foundation Stone

The foundation stone for Caterham Asylum, later to become St Lawrences Hospital, was laid on 22nd April 1868.

The capital of England was in dire need of better provision for the growing population. Workshouses were deemed not able to cope with those with mental conditions. The Metropolitan Poor Act was signed off in parliament in 1867, and the Metropolitan Asylums District created. The plans for two identical aslyums for insane paupers were drawn up, one at Leavesdon in Hertforshire, north London, and one in Caterham, eighteen miles south of London. The Caterham Asylum's foundation stone was laid by Dr William Henry Brewer MP, chairman of the Metropolitan Asylum Board, on 22nd April 1868.

The plans involved a central reception described at the time as in good taste and by no means unpicturesque. Behind it was an industrial sized laundry, kitchen, workshop blocks, with a range of tall ward blocks either side, males to the north, and females and children to the south. The upper floors were connected by fire bridges (pictured above).

The male wards were called MA1, MA2, MA3 (block one) .... all the way along to .... MF1, MF2, MF3(block six). Each ward had its own particular type of resident and culture. MA1 was the medical ward. MB1 and MD1 held the most severely handicapped. MD3 took the more troublesome residents.

I am indebted to Robert Malster's excellent book St Lawrences - The Story of a hospital 1870-1994 for some of the history and the date.

21 April 2019

21st April 1990 - Mental Hospital Closures happening rapidly

In the British Medical Journal of the 21st April 1990 there was an article After the Asylums - What does Community Care mean now?

At the time the hospital closure programme was happening rapidly. The article said The National Schizophrenia Fellowship fellowship established that 30 mental hospitals closed between 1980 and 1989 and that a further 38, with 12 500 beds, were earmarked for closure before 1995. In 1954 the number of psychiatric beds peaked at 148,000 and the target was 47,900. About 64,000 remained at this point in time.

The article spoke about what community care was available. That the majority of community care was with relatives and friends and that this is not always the best option. In 1988, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship had 5000 appeals for help in such cases.

The article considered hostels as a better option in some cases but found it difficult to get good statistics on what was available. Hostels were run locally by so many different organisations such as the Richmond Fellowship, MIND, the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association and the Mental After Care Association. There were also private sector homes but many of these were for the elderly and not younger people.

The article concluded there was a great need to find what facilities were available by region and where more were still needed as the closure programme continued.

Thankyou to the BMJ for the date

20 April 2019

20th April 1745 - Philippe Pinel was born

Philippe Pinel was born on 20th April 1745. He trained to be a doctor but even after moving to Paris found it difficult to find a position and gave lessons in mathematics to make ends meet. He was a humble and kind man. Then after the French Revolution in 1793 he was appointed as the doctor in charge at the Bicetre, a place where the mentally ill were held and treated in dark dungeons like animals in a zoo. He remained there only about a year and a half, but with the nurse Jean-Baptiste Pussin, he abolished the chains and freed many former patients. He treated them with love and kindness and many returned to the outside world. He was then appointed to Salpêtrière in 1795, where he continued to improve the living conditions of patients. He develops what he calls moral treatment. Love and kindness are the 2 greatest medicines known to man. Hatred and chains never cured anyone of anything. His abolition of chains is now one of the founding myths of French psychiatry and helped to demystify mental illness.

Thankyou to Wikipedia April 20th for the date

19 April 2019

19th April 1874 - Ernst Rüdin was born

Swiss Psychiatrist Ernst Rüdin was born on 19th April 1874. He published studies showing a genetic cause in some mental conditions. Then when the Nazis came to power in Germany he emigrated there and argued that people diagnosed with genetic conditions should be sterilised to protect the German race. His scientific evidence gave support to the the 1933 German law allowing the sterilisation of people with various mental conditions. In later years the Nazis also killed mental patients. He may not have been directly involved in the killings but his ideas gave justification to Nazi atrocities. After the end of the war he was placed under house arrest but claimed his work had been scientific and got off fairly lightly.

Thankyou to wikipedia 19 april for the date

18 April 2019

18th April, 1678 - John Evelyn visits new magnificent Bedlam

On 18th April, 1678, John Evelyn reported in his diary 'I went to see new Bedlam Hospital, magnificently built, and most sweetly placed in Moorfields, since the dreadful fire in London.'

Evelyn's diary has entries running from 1640 to 1706. According to wikipedia, at the start of 1674 governors decided to move Bedlam as "the Hospitall House of Bethlem is very olde, weake & ruinous and too small and streight for keepeing the greater number of lunaticks therein at present". 

So they had a magnificent new hospital built - designed by Robert Hooke.

Thankyou to Mental Health Timeline for the date.

17 April 2019

17th April 1840 - Hippolyte Bernheim was born

On 17th April 1840 Hippolyte Bernheim was born. At the University of Nancy he pioneered the use of hypnotism and noted how people who are hypnotised become more suggestible. The use of such suggestibility whether in hypnotism or a waking state led to the development of psychotherapy. Freud studied under Bernheim and Charcot, the two people important in using hypnotism as a therapeutic technique in the 1800s.

16 April 2019

16th April 1943 - LSD hallucinogenic properties discovered

On 16th April 1943 – Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, discovered the hallucinogenic properties of the drug LSD. He first synthesized the drug in 1938 as one of a number of ergot alkaloids, derived from a fungus that grows on rye, and ingested the drug five years later by accident.

He went on to write a a book on LSD: My Problem Child.

In the book he says of that day: ... Last Friday, April 16,1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.

Hofman did further controlled experiments upon himself. Then research was carried out by others into the psychiatric and psychic effects of the drug. But about ten years later Hofman was surprised that LSD increasingly became popular as a recreational drug and ended up being banned as people worried about the side effects.

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

15 April 2019

15th April 1968 - Star Letter

In the Daily Mirror on the 15th April 1968 the star letter from Mrs I in Manchester told people about going into a Mental Hospital. It was suggested for her as months on anti-depressants had not worked.

She was placed on an 'Open ward' where they were allowed to come and go so long as they were back for meals. In the grounds was a cafe, a shop that sold everything you could want, a library and a recreation room where dances and socials were held. Once a week they went to the local cinema. There were also art classes in the ward.

So the writer says anybody who has to go in for nerves or depression should not worry. Thanks to a marvellous nurse and two fine doctors her stay was brief.

The Editor thanked her saying it would give comfort to others.

With thanks to Trinity Mirror, and British Newspaper Archives, for the date.

14 April 2019

14th April 1813- first private psychiatric hospital in the United States

The first private, non profit, psychiatric hospital in the United States was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the Society of Friends (Quakers) on 14th April 1813, and called The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason. The hospital was opened for the admission of patients on 15th May 1817.

According to the New York Times The Friends did not like the way people could pay to gawk at patients in the public asylum in Philadelphia, and the way some were chained up. With the opening of this hospital the Quakers led the way in more humane treatment in the US.

In 1914 its name was changed to Friends Hospital, and still operates with the original Mission Statement as seen on their website https://friendshospital.com/

"To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery."

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

13 April 2019

13th April 1906 - Samuel Beckett Born

Samuel Beckett was born on April 13th 1906. He was an under achiever at school who enjoyed sport. He wasted the first 2 years at University where he found the lectures a waste of time. But found his love of foreign languages in the third year and did well in finals.

He loved French, moved to France, and started writing. But what he wrote was not exactly what publishers could sell. His works followed the themes of alienation, existentialism, emptiness and searching.

He wrote a novel called Murphy (1938) relating the story of a character in a mental hospital. This was after his own experience. His dad died in 1933 and he began to experience panic attacks and depression, and eventually went for psychoanalysis to try and find his way through.

Beckett worked for the French resistance during the war. This included waiting in strange places for messages that never came.

Then he turned his hand to writing plays first in French, then translated into English. His first play Waiting for Godot was a great critical success. It is a play where two tramps are waiting in a forlorn landscape for somebody called Godot who never comes. He wrote other less well known plays.

Becket was awarded the Nobel Literature prize in 1969. His partner said this is a catastrophe. She knew how much Becket hated being in public. His literary agent collected the prize and Becket gave the money to a good cause.

Becket wrote We are all born mad, some remain so


You're on the earth. There's no cure for that


Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Thanks to Wikipedia 13th April for the day, and random readings for what is written here.

12 April 2019

12th April 1941 - Alan Kent Malyon was born

On 12th April 1941 Alan Kent Malyon was born. He was a clinical psychologist who dealt primarily with the emotional problems of gays and lesbians. For a long time psychiatry had viewed homosexuality as a mental illness to be treated. Maylon led a successful campaign to have 'egodystonic homosexuality' removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He also led the way in Gay affirmative psychotherapy, a form of psychotherapy that helps people accept their sexual orientation.

He was the author of many articles dealing with both chronic pain, and gay psychotherapy.

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

11 April 2019

11th April 1906 - Freud to Jung Letter 1

On 11th April 1906 Sigmund Freud sent to Carl Jung a short letter that began a correspondence of over 360 letters. In the letter Sigmund thanked Carl for sending his book of word association studies, which praised the importance of Freud's psychoanalytic ideas. Freud was gratified and thanked Jung.

The correspondence ended less well after seven years when in reply to Jung's growing sarcasm, Freud wrote I propose that we abandon our personal relations entirely. I shall lose nothing by it, for my only emotional tie with you has been a long thin thread - the lingering effect of past disappointments.

Thanks to On This Day in Psychology by David Webb for the date.

10 April 2019

10th April 1958 - Pope Pius XII endorses psychotherapy

On 10th April 1958 Pope Pius XII endorsed modern psychological practices, on the whole, but opposed the use of truth serum, lie detectors, or anything else that enter in against a person's will. This followed years of opposition to psychoanalysis by the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks to the today in psychology history for this date and details.

In a similar way Pope Francis said that he willingly underwent 6 months of psychoanalysis at the age of 42 and that it clarified a lot of things.

A Guardian article said that in the catholic church there is a recognition that social sciences can help unearth issues that need to be dealt with.

09 April 2019

9th April 1850 - George Huntington was born

On April 9th 1850 George Huntington was born.

As a young doctor, aged 22, he described in a paper a condition which he called Chorea. It was a neural degenerative condition that involved brief random involuntary movements, and the loss of control over limbs and speech and swallowing. The onset could start from age 30 to 50. It ran in families with an about 50% chance of inheritance. It also involved mental degeneration.

The word chorea is derived from the Latin 'choreus', meaning dance, and the condition was subsequently called Huntington's Chorea (or disease) after the young doctor who, in his first medical paper, described the condition so well.

Woody Guthrie , the folk singer, had the condition, as did his mum.

Thankyou to today in psychology history for the date.

08 April 2019

8th April 1936 - Fevesham Committee starts work

On 8th April 1936 Lord Fevesham chaired the first meeting of the Fevesham Committee. It was formed to 'Inquire into the extent of mental disorder in England and Wales and the measures taken to deal with it by statutory and voluntary agencies. '

It took evidence from many statutory and voluntary services. There were at that time hundreds of local voluntary groups concerned with 'Mental Hygiene' or 'Mental Welfare'. There were also 4 large national organisations:
* The Mental After Care founded by Lord Shaftesbury (established in 1879)
* The Central Association for Mental Welfare (established in 1913)
* The National Council for Mental Hygiene (established in 1922)
* The Child Guidance Council (established in 1927)

One of the main recommendations of this committee, in the report that came out in 1939, was better co-ordination, and the creation of a new central voluntary body.

No real action was taken until after WWII but the organisations did look to work more closely. Then in 1946 The National Association for Mental Health (NAMH) was founded - that later became MIND. It brought together and created a lot of the local organisations as local MINDs.

Thanks to A History of MIND, and The Wellcome library for this information , and Thanks to the Mental Health Timeline for the date and the quote in the first paragraph.

07 April 2019

7th April 1847 - North and East Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum opened

On 7th April 1847 the North and East Ridings Pauper Lunatic Asylum opened its doors. Pauper refers to ordinary working class people who could not afford the fees of private asylums and so the poor law unions were responsible for their fees.

It was built as a joint venture by the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and was planned in 1843 before the law in 1845 made it mandatory for areas to have their own Asylum. The more industrial West Riding had its own Asylum.

On opening it had accommodation for 144, and the first medical superintendent described it as having a homely, domestic family atmosphere, in contrast to the regimes in many other places. By 1858 additional wings had been added, and there were 472 patients, and it perhaps lost some of the earlier homeliness.

Then in 1865 the East Riding built its own Asylum, and it became just the North Riding Asylum. This allowed more room for a time. The buildings were expanded many times after that.

It became the North Riding Mental Hospital in 1920 and the Clifton Hospital in 1948.

Clifton Hospital closed in July 1994. Like many old institutions a book was written to remember the old place. The book was 'Clifton Hospital - An Era' by M.T.Haslam.

Thanks to the following 2 websites for the information:
Clifton Hospital, York - County Asylums
Bird Childs and Goldsmith Dora Childs and Aaron Tempest

06 April 2019

6th April 1886 - Walter Dandy was born

Walter Edward Dandy (April 6, 1886 – April 19, 1946) was one of the founding fathers of neurosurgery and is given credit for a number of discoveries including the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, and surgical treatment of hydrocephalus.

After medical school, Dandy published a study on cerebrospinal fluid production. He created pneumo-encephalography - the basis of neurological imaging for many years. Other innovations included surgery by clipping for aneurysms (bulging blood vessels) and other blood vessel malformations .

To honor his numerous accomplishments the John Hopkins Institute established the Walter E. Dandy Professorship. The link also describes him as great family man with a memoir by his daughter.

Thankyou to Wikipedia 6th April for the date. Picture from John Hopkins Intitute (in public domain).