Sexual abuse by superintending staff in the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum: Medical practice, complaint and risk

AHP readers may be interested in an open-access piece now in press at History of Psychiatry, “Sexual abuse by superintending staff in the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum: medical practice, complaint and risk” by Cara Dobbing and Alannah Tomkins. Abstract:

The nineteenth century witnessed a great shift in how insanity was regarded and treated. Well documented is the emergence of psychiatry as a medical specialization and the role of lunatic asylums in the West. Unclear are the relationships between the heads of institutions and the individuals treated within them. This article uses two cases at either end of the nineteenth century to demonstrate sexual misdemeanours in sites of mental health care, and particularly how they were dealt with, both legally and in the press. They illustrate issues around cultures of complaint and the consequences of these for medical careers. Far from being representative, they highlight the need for further research into the doctor–patient relationship within asylums, and what happened when the boundaries were blurred.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.