Norfolk Record Office blog posts

Norfolk Lunatic Asylum/St Andrew’s Hospital

by Victoria Draper

It was not only the women admitted with post-natal conditions who made startling recoveries; many patients with diverse causes of insanity also responded positively to the combination of sufficient food, regular exercise and adequate rest; medication was rarely given, because there had been little developed for mental illness at this time.


The Struggles of Motherhood Recorded in the 19th Century Norfolk Lunatic Asylum

by Victoria Draper

In her book The Female Malady, Elaine Showalter suggests it is ‘the suffocation of family life, boredom and patriarchal protectivism’ which ‘gradually destroys women’s capacity to dream, to work, or to act.’[ii]  However, within the casebooks of the Norfolk Lunatic Asylum there is no evidence that women admitted with puerperal insanity had feelings of frustration or confinement stemming from an inability to pursue activities of a more fulfilling nature. Their issues were connected with the pressures of daily living: poverty, ill health, domestic problems, work and/or the lack of it, and the asylum provided just that: asylum, in other words a refuge, from the struggles of daily living.