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Administrations of Lunacy: A Story of Racism and Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A scathing and original look at the racist origins of psychiatry, through the story of the largest mental institution in the world
Today, 90 percent of psychiatric beds are located in jails and prisons across the United States, institutions that confine disproportionate numbers of African Americans. After more than a decade of research, the celebrated scholar and activist M
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 5th 2020 by The New Press
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Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I started out my nursing career, I was a mental health nurse and really enjoyed my years there working in a locked psychiatric unit specializing in the LGBTQ population. Mental Health Nursing will always have a special place in my heart.

Reading this book by Mab Segrest, a longtime activist in social justice movements and a past fellow at the National Humanities Center, gave me an eye opening look at the harrowing and highly racist history of mental health asylum and psychiatric institution
Kimba Tichenor
Mab Segrest, a feminist and anti-racist author, painstakingly traces the racist origins of psychiatry in the United States through the lens of the patients and doctors who walked the corridors of Milledgeville Asylum in Georgia. These origins begin with the purchase of the land on which the Milledgeville asylum was built in 1841 -- lands that were stolen from native American. In subsequent years, those who practiced in the field of psychiatry would develop pseudo-medical theories that helped con ...more
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This has a ton of good information about the history of asylums and, more importantly (imo) the shit that the APA did/supported. It focuses on one asylum in the south, going from the Civil War through to the start of eugenics. However, I found it a bit boring. Which was a shame for me. I just found it to be a very dry read, even though this is a very important topic to me. I'm a social worker and we rely on the APA since we often work with the mentally ill and interdisciplinary teams that includ ...more
Stephanie (Bookfever)
I'm very sad about it but I had to DNF this book. I did read until I finished the first half of this book but even so it was just a little too hard for me to continue. I will try to write a decent review of it, though, since that's only fair because I received a review copy. But of course no rating because I didn't finish it. This book wasn't just for me, unfortunately.

Administrations of Lunacy: A Story of Racism and Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum by Mab Segrest sounded like a fascinatin
Paisley Green
Jul 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Administrations of Lunacy is an account of a single asylum in Milledgeville, GA from its founding on stolen indigenous lands to its eventual decline in the 20th century. Through it, Segrest is trying to tackle a lot of threads to ultimately make the case that early American psychiatry's racist past heavily informs our present.

This is a history not only of the New Jim Crow, but also of the first Jim Crow, and before that of chattel slavery itself and the genocides of Indigenous people, and the
Jamele (BookswithJams)
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, partner
3.5 stars rounded up. When I was asked to be a part of this tour, I immediately said yes because I have never seen a book like this. I expected it to be bad, but I did not expect it to be horrifying. This is an interesting take on the Milledgeville Asylum in Georgia, which happened to be in the South so of course racism played a big role. But let me back up.

First of all, this used to be called the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum. Yes, you read that right. Second, in the 40’s a
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Searing, emotional, and informative, Administrations of Lunacy focuses on one asylum in Georgia from pre-Civil War to the modern age. Confronting such topics as the abuse and neglect of the mentally ill, eugenics, racism, misogyny, and the modern prison industrial complex, this novel is a must read for an understanding of how the modern psychiatric community evolved and what the costs were throughout history.

Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know what to expect but the history of mental health treatment interests me so I read this book. It was enlightening, tragic, hopeful, and insightful. I listened to the audiobook read by the excellent Hillary Huber. The author, Mab Segrest, follows the attempts to remedy mental illness from 1841 in the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum. This book tells of it's hundred year history and the mental issues caused by slavery and the Civil War. The remedies of eugenics, and o ...more
Molly Huff
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow I loved this book. Such an important topic deserves the utmost respect, research, and objectivity, and Lab Segrest has curated just that experience in this haunting recollection of systemic racism and its far-reaching implications. A must-read for anyone in the helping professions.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Administrations of Lunacy is a dispassionate account of the facts surrounding the Central State Hospital in Milledgeville GA, USA. Released 14th April by The New Press, it's 384 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

This is an unflinching and unflattering deconstruction of the history of (at one time) the largest facility for treating and housing the mentally ill in the world. In continuous operation since December 1842 and
Leah Tams
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, asylum
This book is full of good information and historical context, but it was very difficult for me to follow because it isn't well organized. The content within chapters frequently wanders very far afield before returning to the primary subject. Additionally, Segrest occasionally jumps to dramatic conclusions without much evidence and without considerations of alternate possibilities. ...more
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
You can find my full review here:

I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review to come. Incredibly detailed.
J Earl
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgewille Asylum by Mab Segrest is a difficult read not because of the actual writing but because the facts presented indict not just our collective past but our toxic present in crimes against humanity, all under the guise of "medical treatment."

The horrifying history of what has taken place in mental hospitals and insane asylums is widely known. Not usually in great detail but enough that it is easy and smug t
Living My Best Book Life
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Administrations of Lunacy is an eye-opening book on the racism in psychiatry. The author does the research to inform readers of an asylum in Georgia. She details reports and facts from her findings to show how racism shaped the world of psychiatry.

Mab begins the book and starts with details about the Milledgeville Asylum. There are many facts presented that show the conditions that patients, in particular, African Americans were put through. It is heartbreaking to know how poorly they were treat
Sarah Stegeman
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book gives a history of mental health practices in the United States alongside the history of the Milledgeville Asylum in Georgia. This history encompasses racism in healthcare in general and mental health specifically.
One of the most interesting things to me was the way that prisons, rather than smaller community-based healthcare operations, have largely taken the place of state mental hospitals.
This book is interesting, educational, and clears the view of today's still-flawed mental hea
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly researched and insightfully written, this study of what was at one point the largest mental institution is a comprehensive study of the history of psychiatry, institutions, and government policy over the past 150 years. It’s rather terrifying how relevant this history still is in the current moment.
Daniel Farabaugh
Oct 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book tried to do too much. Too much of it was a general history of the United States or race. It was not tied closely enough to the institution and thus I lost the thread of what was going on in the institution. The author would have been better served to either write a book about race and lunacy in general or write about about the institution more specifically
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Segrest expertly shows how racism, mental illness, slavery, imprisonment, and white supremacy combine to create the hellscape of the "good ol' South" in the post-Civil War years, a legacy still very much alive today. ...more
Ked Dixon
I have heard about the work of this author for many many years, but this is the first time I have read any of her work and I was not disappointed. This book took me a long time to read, not because of the nature of its content, but because it is stats-heavy and I am an audio reader.

Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s a no brainer for many that the justice system is messed up and mental health needs are heckin important why aren’t we making them more accessible guys but if you come across some privileged, entitled twit that just doesn’t get it then feel free to chunk this book directly at their face.
Jesse Ballenger
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Rare combination of impassioned activism, scrupulous scholarship, and nuanced conclusions.
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

An in-depth look at not only a mental institution, but the people and the time and place that it existed. This mental institution was large and located in an interesting place especially at an interesting time in our nation's history - the south pre and post Civil War. With its location it had a trying relationship with race relations and how that fits into mental health. I have read other books, mostly historical fiction about mental institutions a
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2020
rated it it was ok
Feb 05, 2021
Becca King
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Jun 02, 2020
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May 09, 2020
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Jun 26, 2020
Timothy M. Bagwell
rated it it was ok
Sep 25, 2020
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Mabelle ("Mab) Massey Segrest is an American feminist, lesbian, writer, and activist.

Born in Alabama, Segrest received her Ph.D. in Modern British Literature from Duke University in 1979 and was appointed the Fuller-Matthai Professor of Gender & Women's Studies at Connecticut College in 2004.

Segrest is often recognized for her efforts combatting sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and other for

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