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Ten Days in a Mad-House Paperback – July 7, 2011


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Ten Days in a Mad-House + The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic + Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146369539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463695392
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Nellie Bly (1864–1922) was the pen name of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne's character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. In addition to her writing, she was also an industrialist and charity worker. She originally intended for her pseudonym to be "Nelly Bly," but her editor wrote "Nellie" by mistake, and the error stuck. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Very interesting read!
Fit_Mum
Far from my favorite writing style, still this short book is worth investing the time to read.
kkl
Nellie Bly is an outstanding writer.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Elaine O. on April 19, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nellie Bly, a reporter, feigned madness in order to gain admission to an asylum. It didn't take too much effort for her to be diagnosed as insane, and taken away. In the asylum, she acted normally again, but nobody seemed to notice. If she had not been a reporter, she probably would have been stuck there forever.
Her writing is clear, intelligent, humorous, and compassionate. Some of the stories of the asylum residents are heartbreaking, and the conditions sound horrendous.
I plan to read more of her writing.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By J. Chambers HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on February 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Ten Days in a Mad-House" is a fascinating exposé of an insane asylum in New York City in the late 19th century. Nellie Bly (the pen name for female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochran), takes an assignment from the New York World newspaper to go undercover into the notorious Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum and write about it. She easily succeeds in convincing a judge and a doctor that she is insane, and a few hours later, she's become an inmate in the asylum. The conditions inside are abominable, with the female inmates being abused by the staff members, the food is inedible, and most of the inmates are freezing in the cold, drafty wards. It becomes obvious to Ms. Bly that once admitted to the hospital, few inmates will ever leave, even the ones who are perfectly sane. The hospital is simply a convenient dumping ground for misfits and others who don't fit neatly into society. Even the women who were genuinely insane received no treatment, only abuse and cruelty from the doctors and nurses on the hospital staff.

The story reminded me of Angelina Jolie's character in the movie "The Changeling," where she is sent to an insane asylum by the police to keep her from exposing their ineptitude and corruption. It's a scary, depressing time for Ms. Bly, even knowing that she will be rescued in a few days.

As a result of Ms. Bly's exposé, a grand jury required the city to invest a substantial amount of money in improving conditions on Blackwell's Island.

The Kindle edition also includes two shorter undercover articles by Nellie Bly. It's a short book that most readers will finish in a couple of hours, but it's well worth the time for an absorbing look into the state of mental health treatment in an earlier era.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Spaz on February 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this in just a few days but the story will be with me forever. I have an interest in mental health and this book is a snapshot of time when mental health wasn't really understood. Nellie Bly went undercover and sought out the truth of what was happening to mental patients at institutions during a time when it was common to send women away for just about anything. The story turns truly horrifying when she arrives at the island. Her determinitation and bravery began a serious look at the treatment of the patients and had outcomes that would be sure that the patients would be treated with dignity and respect.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Claudia Burt Green on June 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book tells the tale of a writer who went under cover to see how conditions were in a mental health facility. This is a good historical view of the conditions. As a member of the health profession, I enjoyed it and I give her a lot of credit for going into the situation.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Crystal on June 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I decided to read this book out of pure boredom. I became so engrossed I could not stop until I was finished. This was such an amazing story that I have suggested it to all my friends and family.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lark Spring on July 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I simply can't resist adding my voice to all the other positive reviews of this ebook.

This is the Kindle edition of a book that first came out in 1887, a compilation of newspaper articles by an American reporter using the name of Nellie Bly. She arranged to have herself admitted involuntarily to the worst lunatic asylum in New York to find out what conditions were like and, if anything, got more than she bargained for. Her account of her ten days incarcerated with both the insane and those mistakenly deemed to be insane is no less harrowing now than it was at the time of her investigation.

However, the result of the author's exposé was to have conditions in the asylum (and mental care in New York and elsewhere in general) greatly changed through the new attitudes and increased funding that followed her evidence to a grand jury set up expressly for the purpose of hearing this. For example, following the newspaper reports several of the 'nurses' who were harshest to the unfortunate inmates were dismissed. Because of the power of her reportage, the fame of Nellie Bly (real name Elizabeth Cochrane) has justly lasted into the 21st century.

The book is very well written without being overly long, and is supplemented by a couple of shorter reports, one on the workings of the employment agencies of the time and another more heartening one about the work of girls in a box-making factory. Here, among the poorest of the poor, the intrepid reporter found much of the sympathy and kindness that was absent in the mad-house, and the reader as a consequence finds her own faith in humanity somewhat renewed.

This is a report that I am glad I did not miss, despite the emotions roused in me by the details it contains.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sean Rickert on October 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book provides an insightful perspective into the way that the mentally ill were treated during the latter part of the 19th Century. Nellie's intrusion into this world is nothing short of frightening. What shocks me the most isn't the way the patients are treated, but the ease with which a moderately sane person could find herself taken out of society and placed in a world where madness was the norm. A wonderful short read, and a must for anyone studying late 19th century society (sane or insane).
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