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Ten Days in a Mad House Paperback – November 17, 2013
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She is amazed at how readily people in the medical profession proclaim her insane and how quickly they decide she needs to be committed to an Asylum. Once an inmate in the "Lunatic Asylum" she is dismayed when she sees the patients being taunted, laughed at, and even struck by nurses. The patients were also given inadequate clothing to keep them warm in a hospital that has no heat because the heat is turned on only for certain months of the year. She observes the cold, disgusting and inedible food that is served to the patients while the nurses are being served hot meals and being given fresh fruit.
This book, which she wrote from notes she took while in the Asylum, singlehandedly brought about serious reform in this country in the way people are diagnosed as mentally incompetent and also in the way they are treated if they have to be committed. I can't say I "enjoyed" this book but it was very enlightening.
Over the counrse of ten days, Bly (who expressed surprised at how easily she was pronounced insane) experienced the poor conditions of Blackwell's Island alongside her fellow inmates. She soon found that with inedible food, no heat, filthy water, abusive "nurses", and total seclusion it was no wonder the women had gone insane. Bly viewed them with sympathy and felt that many of them were not, in fact, "crazy", but depressed, sick, or victimized.
Bly was soon released and shared her finding in The York World. Her time at Blackwell's Island provided fascinating and disturbing insight into the treatment of mentally ill patients and did result in reform.
You might think that a book about mental illness and a corrupt system would be hard to get through, but it is a surprisingly quick read. Bly has a very engaging style of writing and the first-person descriptions are engrossing. She was something of an anomaly in her time, but her risks paid off for the future of the mental health field.
Bly had this to say when approached by her editor with the idea of going under cover. "I said I would and I could. And I did." Yes she did. Most of us would not have done the same. A great read for those who enjoy investigative journalism or who are interested in learning more about 19th century asylums. To the latter, I must also recommend Seeing the Insane by Sander Gilman.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the book, but wasn't too surprised at her findings yet I have high respect for her courage and contributions to society.Published 2 days ago by filomena saddler
Not many men or women would choose to stay in an insane asylum for any period of time, let alone for ten days. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Kathryn
This is a classic written by a unique human being with a heart and soul not adequately recognized or appreciated. We are in sore need of more like her in these most trying times.Published 19 days ago by Zach
The book starts off very slowly, and you expect the pace to pick up. However, it doesn't. Expected more dramatic stories.Published 21 days ago by Nancy Vaughn
Very interesting read. I have not read the entire book yet but so far it is very interesting. To look back in time to see how things worked and why people were admitted to the... Read morePublished 21 days ago by matthewg89
Compelling 1st hand account of New York's insane asylums. Well worth the read. Best primary source of history of the treatment of the mentally ill at the turn of the centuryPublished 25 days ago by Lincolnbabin