What makes someone a menace to the world? The Knitting Genealogist on reasons given for why people were committed to the Retreat, a progressive asylum two hundred years ago:
Whilst researching, I was fascinated by the reasons people were certified and admitted to the asylum. On admission, patients had already been ‘certified’ and these certificates were placed in the Admission records. A common reason for admission was “Religious melancholy” or simply “Religion”. Here are just a handful of the most interesting answers, from the 1820s:
“A violent attachment to a female not approved by his friends.”
“Perhaps attending overmuch to business.”
“By fright, caused by a man (unknown) getting into his Lodging room, secreting himself under some Linen in a corner of the room, and after about five weeks after this he was attacked with the first fit…”
“A tedious confinement with an affected family”.
“Suppose a fear of not being able to pay his just debts owing to the depression of the times”. (1826)
“Disappointments from a long attachment to a man” . (28 yr old woman)
“Intemperate use of Opium”.
“Suppressed or irregular menstruation”. (A 33 year old woman).
“Primarily drinking British Gin”.