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Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots: A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  19 reviews
In the first half of the nineteenth century, treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed.

Focusing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively adv
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published June 12th 2017 by Pen and Sword History
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Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots” is a comprehensive and fascinating account of historic asylum health care originating in the U.K. that includes England and the British Isles, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Authored by award winning historians and registered professional genealogists, Dr. John Bert is retired and based in Edinberg. Kathryn Burtinshaw is the owner of Pinpoint Ancestry in North Wales and received advanced training in Local History at Oxford University.

The Bethlehem Royal Hospital in
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

'Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots' by Dr John Burt and Kathryn Burtinshaw

3 stars/ 6 out of 10

I was interested in reading this book, since I have done some research relating to a local asylum, pertaining to conditions there during the mid 19th century.

I thought that the authors made very good use of primary sources and of case studies. It would be interesting to know whether conditions in asylums were as good in reality as some of the official source materials suggest that they were.

There was a gre
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've always had an interest in mental illness, and the way in which it is perceived and has been treated over the years. I grew up in a small village in North Nottinghamshire which was overshadowed by the dark and gloomy buildings that make up Rampton Hospital. Now a ground-breaking institution in the field of mental health treatment, it was once known locally as 'the asylum'. Members of my family worked there, lots of our neighbours worked there, and eventually, when I was in my early twenties, ...more
☘Tara Sheehan☘
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kathryn Burtinshaw and Dr. John Burt have put a tremendous amount of research, time and heart into an incredibly difficult and complex piece.

I felt compelled to review this due to my family’s personal connection to the issue. Decades ago when the turmoil between Protestants and Catholics was much worse, and Catholics had little to no power, just being a Catholic was often considered enough of a crime to warrant punishment. I had a great grandfather beaten over the head and committed to an asylu
Olga Miret
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book for researchers of the topic and anybody curious about the history of psychiatry and psychiatric treatment in the UK in the XIXc Thanks to Pen & Sword for gifting me a copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
I have read and reviewed several books by Pen & Sword and have commented on their great catalogue before. As you know, I’m a psychiatrist and could not resist it when I saw this book.
The authors, who are well-known for writing about genealogy, note in their introduction
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
"Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots" offered some interesting insights into the workings of Great Britain's asylums in the 19th century.

The first couple of chapters which focused on when which asylum was built was rather slow and not very interesting, but the later chapters which focused on the actual workings of the asylums was much more interesting.
Viktória Larišová
Well, the more you know... As on-and-off academic, though, I really admire all the research needed. Informative, clever and without pop agenda and bias.
Aunt Meanie
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots A History of Insanity in the 19th Century Britan and Ireland
By: Kathryn M. Burtinshaw and John R.F. Burt

This book gives very detailed information concerning the formation of various types of facilities in which insane persons could be housed, from workhouses, gaols [jails], “mad” houses, asylums, and the best of them being called “retreats'.

The book can also be a valuable resource for genealogists searching for an ancestor who “disappeared” from the family tree an
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots
A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland
by Dr John Burt, Kathryn Burtinshaw
Pen & Sword
Pub Date 30 Apr 2017
Courtesy of Netgalley

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland by Dr John Burt and Kathryn Burtinshaw was a challenging read but a very fascinating one. The authors detail how the mentally ill were cared for before the nineteenth century. They also delve into legislation that was meant
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Lunatics, Imbeciles, and Idiots by Dr John Burt & Kathryn Burtinshaw is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April.

Burt & Burtinshaw offer short 6-8 page chapters on 19th century mental health treatment (known at the time as 'curative shelters'), stigmas against the assumption of insanity, staff and patient records, information about asylums past and present in the UK, proponents of asylum acts/laws (such as Dorothea Dix and Jonathan Swift), clothing/recreation/recreation/religious servic
Dale Dewitt
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A truly enlightening account of the development of mental health care in the UK in the nineteenth century. Through actual accounts of treatment methods and also focusing on those who sought to improve the conditions the reader is able to get a sense of what asylums' were like. One of the most interesting aspects I felt was the disparity in conditions between those who could afford care and those who could not. This lack of quality mental health care for some while providing a nurturing environme ...more
Lauren Walsburg
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots is an incredibly interesting read. It discusses our horrifying history of the treatment of people with mental health disorders and other disorders often categorised as insanity. The book draws attention to the mistreated, misdiagnosed, and misinformed
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is for anyone interested in social history. The authors take the reader through the history of the treatment of those with mental illness during the Nineteenth century. The book opens with information about how to trace ancestors who may have been in an asylum. Chapters 2 – 9 talk about the development of asylums and the legal treatment of patients. Each chapter focuses on a different region of Britain and Ireland. Chapters 10 – 20 go on to give information about staff and how they wer ...more
Emma Dargue
General history and overview of the care of people who had mental health illnesses in the 19th century. I felt that this book although informative and interesting in the main there were periods where it dragged and I lost interest in this book. The case studies were for me the most interesting part as it gave an overview of if treatment was successful or not. A good book if your interested in this particular subject.
Anne-Louise Sheppard
A whole lot of waffle and not much content.

I was hoping for an in depth look at mental health throughout the ages with many a case study. Unfortunately this book is not it. It reads like a teenage essay where the author is just trying to fill pages. I would've preferred more cases to be gone in to but this just me.
Nicola Cassidy
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful and well researched

I really enjoyed this account of 19th century asylums in the UK and Ireland. It had lots of details I’d never heard of before. As a fiction author I will use some of what I learned in this book in my writing.
Tina Leibel
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some interesting information re treatments of mental illness in 1700-1900’s I did enjoy some of the case files and reasoning of why certain treatments were used I did however find the book went into too much detail for me on the building of each asylum etc.
Sarah Bradbury
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting explanation of the history of mental health.

I found this book fascinating as it explains many aspects of mental health including institutions, mental health diagnosis and treatments, and the (sometimes quite dramatic) changes of these over the centuries.
Darlene Halsey
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Dec 10, 2018
Amy McMullen
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Sep 20, 2017
Geoff Keats
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Mar 24, 2019
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Apr 26, 2020
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Carmen Tudor
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Sep 30, 2018
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
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Jun 01, 2017
John D'Archambaud
rated it it was amazing
Nov 27, 2019
A very dry but extensively detailed resource for anyone interested in the development of treatment for the mentally disabled during the Nineteenth Century in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The author, John Burt, provides documented sources of personal histories, newspaper stories, journals and correspondence to add meat to his lengthy piece of research into the chronological buildup and progression of Asylums and Homes for those in dire need of better housing, empathy and treatment. Full ...more
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