Treatment of the Mentally Ill: Background information when reading The Anatomy of Ghosts

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The Anatomy of Ghosts

by Andrew Taylor

The Anatomy of Ghosts
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2011, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2012, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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Beyond the Book:
Treatment of the Mentally Ill

In Andrew Taylor's The Anatomy of Ghosts, while recovering from his ordeal, Frank Oldershaw is first held at a home for the mentally disturbed. Although the process used to treat him there seems brutal and oppressive to modern sensibilities, for the time period it was considered quite advanced and progressive.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, people in mental institutions were frequently subjected to horrendous conditions. Some inmates were chained to stone floors, to the walls of their cells, to the bars of a cage, or to heavy wooden trough bedsteads. This shackling was not always restricted to periods of maniacal excitement but could continue for years, sometimes for life. Chains, handcuffs, iron girdles, collars, and straitjackets were all used. Typically viewed as wild animals that had lost their reason, inmates were subjected to numerous torturous "treatments," including whipping, beating, bloodletting, shocking, starvation, ...

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