Article ID: CBB000930668

Poverty, Crime and Mental Illness: Female Forensic Psychiatric Committal in Ireland, 1910--1948 (2008)

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This article focuses on case-records of all women admitted to the Central Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dublin between 1910 and 1948. The majority of women were Roman Catholic (85.4 per cent) and had a mean age of 36.4 years. The majority were convicted of a crime (85.7 per cent), of whom 75.0 per cent were convicted of killing, most commonly child-killing. The majority of women detained `at the Lord Lieutenant's Pleasure' (indefinitely) were convicted of murder (51.7 per cent), assault (20.7 per cent) or infanticide (13.8 per cent); mean duration of detention was 5.6 years. The most common diagnoses were `mania' or `delusional insanity' (38.1 per cent) and `melancholia' (23.8 per cent); 7.1 per cent were considered `sane'. Following their detention, 28.1 per cent of women were transferred to district asylums and the remainder were released under various different circumstances. In common with similar studies from other countries, these data demonstrate that the fate of these women was largely determined by a combination of societal, legal and medical circumstances, as evidenced by the socio-economic profile of women admitted and changes in admission patterns following the introduction of the Mental Treatment Act 1945. The role of other factors (such as religion) in determining their fate merits further study. Keywords: history; twentieth century; psychiatric hospitals; mental disorders; forensic psychiatry; crime; homicide; social alienation

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Authors & Contributors
Jones, Greta
Malcolm, Elizabeth
Kelly, Brendan D.
Hide, Louise
Kelly, James G.
Geary, Laurence M.
Journals
History of Psychiatry
Social History of Medicine
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
American Quarterly
Journal of Social History
Publishers
International Specialized Book Services
A. & A. Farmar
University of Maine
University of Warwick (United Kingdom)
Concepts
Psychiatric hospitals
Mental disorders and diseases
Public health
Psychiatry
Crime
Medicine
People
Wilde, Robert Willis
Cameron, Charles Alexander
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century, late
Places
Ireland
England
Great Britain
Québec (Canada)
Dublin (Ireland)
Sweden
Institutions
Royal Belfast Academical Institution
Catholic University of Ireland (Dublin)
Charity Organization Society
St James’s Home for Female Inebriates
HM Pentonville Prison (The Ville)
National Health Service (Great Britain)
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