What did they think caused instability?

  • Menstruation-related anger
  • Pregnancy-related sadness
  • Post-partum depression symptoms
  • Disobedience
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anxiety

Two major figures in the Victorian mental health field were James Conolly, author of The Construction and Government of Lunatic Asylums (1847) and Henry Maudsley, whose influential books included The Physiology and Pathology of Mind (1867).

Regarded at the time as progressive and humane, mental policies and asylum practices now seem almost as cruel as the earlier punitive regimes. Men and women were housed in separate wards and put to different work, most devoted to supply and service within the asylum. The use of mechanical restraints such as manacles and muzzles was steadily phased out in favour of ‘moral management’, although solitary confinement and straitjackets continued to be used.

From the 1870s (animal) thyroid extract was used for various complaints including constipation and depression, while from 1889 animal testicular extracts were deployed in pursuit of rejuvenation and miracle cures. At the same date aspirin was developed to replace traditional opiate painkillers.

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