English Asylum Life for Victorian Women

Apr 2017
5
Georgia
Hey guys, trying to do some research for a novel that's currently in the works but struggling a little bit. It involves an American woman in 1890s England (and on the low end of the upper class) being institutionalized (under the claim of, you know, 'hysteria', 'disobedience', and 'obsessive behaviors', courtesy of her husband), but there's a few of the finer details and specifics I can't seem to find answers to.

For one, I'm trying to get an idea of patient outfits for the times?

Secondly, I'm thinking she might actually be pregnant and won't find out until after she's institutionalized. I'm guessing the asylum's most likely course of action is to make her have the baby and give it over to the husband? But I also know treatment and perspective of the mentally ill was criminally appalling as well, and they didn't really seem to be against concepts like forced sterilization and hysterectomies either. Just wanting to be sure before planning too much further on the idea; is my guess of a forced birth more likely than the potential of a forced abortion, or is it more likely to go the other way?

And lastly, how much of a difference-if any-is there going to be in the treatment of institutionalized female patients if they're of differing classes and in what kind of ways? It's worth noting the the husband just...doesn't really care, so he's not exactly looking to set her up with the 'best nurses of the city' or whatever.

If anyone maybe has some links they would like to recommend for research, please feel free to drop them here and help me out! Again, most of the sources I'm finding seem to all talk about the overarching picture (which I kinda already learned in my psychology classes), but it's a lot harder finding stuff with information on more specific details, circumstances, and scenarios.

Thanks!
 
Apr 2017
5
Georgia
The treatment of the mentally ill had started to improve by this time. See Lord Ashley political section here

Most people would not have been able to afford private treatment in an asylum or clinic and so would probably have ended up in a Workhouse.
And if they were able to afford private treatment in an asylum or clinic? Again, they're already in the upper class, even if the husband doesn't necessarily care about how she's treated, she still needs to maintain appearances. And this is sort of the main setting of the novel, so...workhouse is kind of out. I specifically need information about asylum life and treatment, but thanks. đŸ˜•

There's a chance I might also pull it back by a decade also, if I need to; as I haven't begun officially writing it yet, it's still very malleable in the planning stages.
 

Moros

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,100
In a private asylum the patients generally wore their own clothes.

If the woman was pregnant she would be expected to carry through to labour. The husband would then take charge of the child, as its legal father. Assuming he accepts the child as his, of course.

But if the husband was also trying to maintain appearances, then he could have had her treated at home, like Rochester's mad wife in the attic, in Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre'.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,694
Europe
And if they were able to afford private treatment in an asylum or clinic? Again, they're already in the upper class, even if the husband doesn't necessarily care about how she's treated, she still needs to maintain appearances. And this is sort of the main setting of the novel, so...workhouse is kind of out. I specifically need information about asylum life and treatment, but thanks. đŸ˜•

There's a chance I might also pull it back by a decade also, if I need to; as I haven't begun officially writing it yet, it's still very malleable in the planning stages.
If money was no object then the patient would receive the best care. Private treatment in an exclusive clinic or having apartments nearby a clinic. Servants to attend to everyday needs. The best doctors and most up to date therapy. No different from today really