To what extent did ‘medical evaluations’ influence the journey of the pauper insane? An appraisal of the roles of the poor law medical officer and the medical superintendent at the Hailsham Union and the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum, (1859-1882)

Jewell, Tina Patricia (2020). To what extent did ‘medical evaluations’ influence the journey of the pauper insane? An appraisal of the roles of the poor law medical officer and the medical superintendent at the Hailsham Union and the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum, (1859-1882). Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a grade in either the Pass 1 band (equivalent to a 1st) or the Pass 2 band (equivalent to a 2.i).
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
Copyright resides with the author and all rights are reserved.

Abstract

This study will consider the extent medical evaluations influenced the journey of pauper lunatics from the Hailsham Union Workhouse in East Sussex to the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum which opened in 1859 by appraising the relationships between the key medical officers involved in the process between 1859-1882. The rise of the lunatic asylum in the nineteenth century was seen as the beginning of specialized treatment of mental disorders in organized institutions. The 1845 Asylum Act made the erection of county asylums compulsory and was funded under the New Poor Law legislation. Asylums have now been replaced with Psychiatric Hospitals specializing in mental health. This research will use the terms in context of the time period written. Existing research has concluded that while the asylum has been seen as the domain of the asylum doctor in reality, he held little authority. Historians have also reasoned that the Poor Law Relieving Officer held more responsibility than the Poor Law Medical Officer in dispatching the poor insane from the Union to the asylum while others have concluded the importance of family influence in the admission and discharge of the poor insane.

This research has tested this argument by considering primary sources involved in the journey of the pauper insane providing an insight to the medical autonomy each enjoyed within these institutions under the Poor Law which shaped the administrative infrastructure of the nineteenth century asylum system led by the Poor Law Officials and Commissioners in Lunacy. It will conclude that it was a combination of negotiations between family networks, Poor Law Officials and doctors which determined the journey of the poor insane rather than by an imposed medical solution.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions

Export

About

Recommendations