Article ID: CBB109132105

How did mental health become so biomedical? The progressive erosion of social determinants in historical psychiatric admission registers (2021)


This paper explores the historical developments of admission registers of psychiatric asylums and hospitals in England and Wales between 1845 and 1950, with illustrative examples (principally from the archives of the Rainhill Asylum, UK). Standardized admission registers have been mandatory elements of the mental health legislative framework since 1845, and procedural changes illustrate the development from what, today, we would characterize as a predominantly psychosocial understanding of mental health problems towards primarily biomedical explanations. Over time, emphasis shifts from the social determinants of admission to an asylum to the diagnosis of an illness requiring treatment in hospital. We discuss the implications of this progressive historical diminution of the social determinants of mental health for current debates in mental health care.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article John Aldrich; (2021)
Mathematical women in the British Isles 1878–1940: using the Davis archive (/isis/citation/CBB350249060/) unapi

Article Roy E. Bailey; Timothy J. Hatton; Kris Inwood; (2016)
Health, height, and the household at the turn of the twentieth century (/isis/citation/CBB371293089/) unapi

Article Mauricio V Daker; (2019)
The theory of symptom complexes, mind and madness (/isis/citation/CBB264539507/) unapi

Article Slijkhuis, Jessica; Oosterhuis, Harry; (2014)
Cadaver Brains and Excesses in Baccho and Venere: Dementia Paralytica in Dutch Psychiatry (1870--1920) (/isis/citation/CBB001420765/) unapi

Article Morag Allan Campbell; (2017)
‘Noisy, restless and incoherent’: puerperal insanity at Dundee Lunatic Asylum (/isis/citation/CBB791023960/) unapi

Article Michael, Pamela; Hirst, David; (2012)
Recording the Many Faces of Death at the Denbigh Asylum, 1848--1938 (/isis/citation/CBB001232192/) unapi

Article Motlatsi Thabane; (2021)
Public mental health care in colonial Lesotho: themes emerging from archival material, 1918–35 (/isis/citation/CBB263655708/) unapi

Book Alistair Ritch; (2019)
Sickness in the Workhouse: Poor Law Medical Care in Provincial England, 1834-1914 (/isis/citation/CBB200868576/) unapi

Article Janet Weston; Virginia Berridge; (2020)
AIDS Inside and Out: HIV/AIDS and Penal Policy in Ireland and England & Wales in the 1980s and 1990s (/isis/citation/CBB869671221/) unapi

Book David Scrimgeour; (2015)
Proper People: Early Asylum Life in the Words of Those Who Were There (/isis/citation/CBB325630550/) unapi

Article Gregory, Ian N.; Henneberg, Jordi Martí; (2010)
The Railways, Urbanization, and Local Demography in England and Wales, 1825--1911 (/isis/citation/CBB001231856/) unapi

Article Elizabeth Nelson; (2019)
Confusion about confusion: Édouard Toulouse’s dementia test, 1905–20 (/isis/citation/CBB949181165/) unapi

Article Miller, Edgar; (2013)
“Pauper Lunatics and their Treatment,” by Joshua Harrison Stallard (1870) (/isis/citation/CBB001320339/) unapi

Article Hane Htut Maung; (2016)
Diagnosis and causal explanation in psychiatry (/isis/citation/CBB953313116/) unapi

Book Claire Hilton; (2017)
Improving Psychiatric Care for Older People: Barbara Robb’s Campaign 1965-1975 (/isis/citation/CBB657852750/) unapi

Article Howard Phillips; (2020)
’17, ’18, ’19: religion and science in three pandemics, 1817, 1918, and 2019 (/isis/citation/CBB296469942/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Gregory, Ian N.
Henneberg, Jordi Martí
Michael, Pamela F.
Hirst, David
Miller, Edgar
Slijkhuis, Jessica
History of Psychiatry
Social History of Medicine
Social Science History
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of Global History
University of Rochester Press
Scrimgeour Yorkshire
Boydell & Brewer
Palgrave Macmillan
Mental disorders and diseases
Psychiatric hospitals
Medicine and society
Public health
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Robb, Barbara
Toulouse, Edouard
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
21st century
Great Britain
London (England)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment