Intellectual disability, mental illness and offending behaviour: forensic cases from early twentieth-century Ireland
- 333 Downloads
The history of institutional care for individuals with intellectual disability is under-researched, complex and troubling.
To explore the experiences of women who may have had intellectual disability and/or mental illness and were admitted to forensic psychiatric care in early twentieth-century Ireland.
All female case records at the Central Mental Hospital, Dublin from 1910 to 1948 (n = 42) were studied for evidence of possible intellectual disability and a series of five cases is presented in detail.
These committals occurred in the context of adverse social conditions, over-crowding in asylums and a belief that rates of mental illness were rising. Particular challenges included diagnostic issues (especially in relation to intellectual disability), adjustment to asylum environments, mental illness and physical ill-health.
The institutional experiences of individuals with intellectual disability represents an important area for further historical research, using larger and more varied forensic populations.
KeywordsLearning disability Mental health Forensic psychiatry Hospitals Psychiatric History Twentieth century
The author is grateful for the support of Professor Harry Kennedy (National Forensic Psychiatry Service, Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin 14) and the comments of the anonymous peer-reviewer.
- 1.Digby A (1996) Contexts and perspectives. In: Wright D, Digby A (eds) From idiocy to mental deficiency: historical perspectives on people with learning disabilities (studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 1–21Google Scholar
- 2.Atkinson D, Jackson M, Walmsley J (1997) Introduction: methods and themes. In: Atkinson D, Jackson M, Walmsley J (eds) Forgotten lives: exploring the history of learning disability. British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD). Worcestershire, UK, pp 1–20Google Scholar
- 3.Dale P, Melling J (2006) The politics of mental welfare: fresh perspectives on the history of institutional care for the mentally ill and disabled. In: Dale P, Melling J (eds) Mental Illness and Learning Disability: finding a place for mental disorder in the United Kingdom (Routledge Studies in the Social History of Medicine). Routledge, London, pp 1–23Google Scholar
- 4.Inspector of Lunatics (Ireland) (1893) The forty-second report (with appendices) of the Inspector of Lunatics (Ireland). Thom & Co./Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, DublinGoogle Scholar
- 5.Michael P, Hirst D (1999) Establishing the ‘rule of kindness’: the foundation of the North Wales Lunatic Asylum, Denbeigh. In: Melling J, Forsythe B (eds) Insanity, institutions and society, 1800–1914: a social history of madness in comparative perspective (studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 159–179Google Scholar
- 6.Crompton F (2006) Needs and desires in the care of pauper lunatics: admissions to Worcester Asylum, 1852–72. In: Dale P, Melling J (eds) Mental illness and learning disability: finding a place for mental disorder in the united kingdom (routledge studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 46–64Google Scholar
- 8.White P, Chant D, Edwards N, Townsend C, Waghorn G (2005) Prevalence of intellectual disability and comorbid mental illness in an Australian community sample. Aust NZJ Psychiatry 39:395–400Google Scholar
- 14.Mulryan N, Gibbons P, O’Connor A (2002) Infanticide and child murder—admission to the Central Mental Hospital 1850–2000. Ir J Psychol Med 19:8–12Google Scholar
- 16.Smith C (1990) The Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin. In: Bluglass R, Bowden P (eds) Principles and practice of forensic psychiatry. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, pp 1351–1353Google Scholar
- 17.Fuller Torrey E, Miller J (2001) The invisible plague: the rise of mental illness from 1750 to the present. Rutgers University Press, NJGoogle Scholar
- 21.Anonymous (1861) Increase in insanity. Am J Insanity 18:95Google Scholar
- 22.Tuke DH (1894) Increase of insanity in Ireland. J Ment Sci 40:549–558Google Scholar
- 26.Conley CA (1995) No pedestals: women and violence in late nineteenth century Ireland. J Soc Hist 28:801–808Google Scholar
- 28.Jones G (1999) The campaign against tuberculosis in Ireland, 1899–1914. In: Malcolm E, Jones G (eds) Medicine, disease and the State in Ireland, 1650–1940. Cork University Press, Cork, pp 158–176Google Scholar
- 30.Lyons FSL (1985) Ireland since the famine. Fontana, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 32.Scull AT (1979) Museums of madness: the social organization of insanity in nineteenth-century England. Allen Lane, LondonGoogle Scholar
- 33.Walsh D, Daly A (2004) Mental illness in Ireland 1750–2002: reflections on the rise and fall of institutional care. Health Research Board, DublinGoogle Scholar
- 34.Ireland WW (1885) The blot upon the brain. Bell & Bradfute, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
- 35.Inspectors of Lunatics (1894) Special report from the Inspectors of Lunatics to the Chief Secretary: alleged increasing prevalence of insanity in Ireland. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, DublinGoogle Scholar
- 36.Gladstone D (1996) The changing dynamic of institutional care: The Western Counties Idiot Asylum, 1864–1914. In: Wright D, Digby A (eds) From idiocy to mental deficiency: historical perspectives on people with learning disabilities (studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 134–160Google Scholar
- 37.Jackson M (1996) Institutional provision for the feeble-minded in Edwardian England: Sandlebridge and the scientific morality of permanent care. In: Wright D, Digby A (eds) From idiocy to mental deficiency: historical perspectives on people with learning disabilities (studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 161–183Google Scholar
- 38.Egan M (2006) The ‘manufacture’ of mental defectives: Why the number of mental defectives increased in Scotland, 1857–1939. In: Dale P, Melling J (eds) Mental illness and learning disability: finding a place for mental disorder in the United Kingdom (Routledge studies in the social history of medicine). Routledge, London, pp 131–153Google Scholar
- 39.Finnane P (1981) Insanity and the insane in post-famine Ireland. Croon Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar