Madness and industrial society, a study of the origins and early growth of the organisation of insanity in nineteenth century Scotland c.1830-70

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1981
Thesis identifier
  • T4110
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Nineteenth century Scottish asylum records show that crude admission rates were increasing annually. Nevertheless, when these data are expressed as a percentage of the general population, they lose much of their statistical significance. Moreover, the statistics reveal that, on balance, the prevalence of insanity was greater in densely populated regions, that the female insane outnumbered the males, and the paupers constituted the bulk of the lunatic population. The material consulted however only reveals part of the picture, as a large percentage of the insane remained unknown to the officials. But despite contemporary evaluation, the figures-were a distinct source of anxiety to nineteenth century administrators. As a result, Victorian Scotland, as elsewhere, witnessed a trend towards institutionalising lunacy. Nevertheless, there were aspects of this process which were distinctive to Scotland. Although the major reform process took place in 1857, at a time when Scotland had emerged as a mature, industrial society, the beginnings of tentative, unco-ordinated attempts to remedy this particular social problem were correlative with, rather than a result of, industrialisation. Moreover, local philanthropy, was as much a part of the reform process as national Benthamite utilitarianism. Specifically, it was precisely the existence of the seven Royal Asylums, unique to Scotland, whose origins in Montrose predate the reforms of Pinel and Tuke by ten years, which not only explains the slower entry of the state into this aspect of social life in Scotland compared to England, but was also the reason behind the smaller scale of the 'trade in lunacy'. Furthermore, when full reform finally came to Scotland, the new civil servants involved appeared to favour smaller asylums than those built elsewhere, and were prepared not to incarcerate about a quarter of their known insane population. In contrast, although the evidence suggests that while the Royal Asylum managements did practice 'moral management' extensively when caring for their patients, they were less innovatory about treatment.. Eighteenth century 'medicinal remedies' died hard in Scottish asylums. But moral management was non-existent in the private madhouses and poorhouses.
Resource Type
  • Typescript
Date Created
  • 1981
Former identifier
  • 350728