A Geographical History of Institutional Provision for the Insane: From Medieval Times to the 1860’s in England and Wales

Author: Philo, Christopher
Tackles the historical encounter between madness and space in two interwoven ways. Conceptually, it offers a critical revisiting of Foucault’s famous 1961 text translated as Madness and Civilization. Traces the emergence of an exclusionary impulse seeking to remove those designated as ‘mad’ from the midst of everyday society, and it also maps out the many different sites and institutions that have confined, sheltered, treated and even cured madness over the centuries. Readers can follow the broad historical sweep of the narrative, or they can dip into the relatively self-contained chapters on particular facilities (gaols and workhouses, private madhouses, charitable lunatic hospitals, and public county lunatic asylums).


“[This] book represents a distinct departure by comparison with previous studies of the ‘mad-business’. It seeks to take us through the entire anatomical network of public spaces and places reserved for insanity, to make us think concretely and, moreover, spatially about the whys and wherefores behind the many and various places and spaces designed and designated for the insane ... [It] will help to foster and to further a significant shift in the disciplinary focus of future thinking and research in this vibrant field of enquiry.” - Dr. Jonathan Andrews, Oxford

“[Professor Philo] has made use of a wide range of sources to produce an important history of the development of institutional provision for the insane from medieval times until the end of the nineteenth-century ... In his study of the 18th and 19th centuries he reinterprets much previously written material, while supplementing it with much that he has gathered from his own researches. He provides very detailed and extensive footnotes, which historians (including myself) will find invaluable ... a very important reference work for historians and students of the social history of medicine, of psychiatry, and of institutions as a whole.” – Dr. Leonard D. Smith, Honorary Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Birmingham

“The empirical richness of the material is matched by the theoretical depth of the argument, and I am sure the work will be of interest not only to geographers who hold Chris Philo’s work in the highest regard, but also to historians who have already responded enthusiastically to his conference papers and articles on the topic. This is certainly a big work, but it is also intellectually ambitious, and it will attract interest as much for its arguments as for the detailed treatment of data on which they depend.” – Professor Felix Driver, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

"Ultimately, this work is far more than what Professor Philo modestly calls A Geographical History. It represents a significant contribution to the historiography of mental disorder and the manner in which it has been managed and treated over the last several centuries. It should become an essential text in the field." - Leonard Smith, University of Birmingham

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements
Commendatory Preface
1. Introduction: history, geography, madness
2. ‘The complex picture in time and space’: putting geography into histories of madhouses, mad-doctors and mad people
3. Highways, hermits, hospitals and hhuts: the ‘chaotic spaces’ of madness from the Dark Ages to the Restoration
4. ‘Taken to secure places’: madness in gaols, houses of correction, poorhouses and workhouses
5. ‘Scenes of distress hid in obscure corners’: the opportunistic geographies of the private madhouse system
6. ‘To build a house for fools and mad’: the location and relocation of charitable lunatic hospitals
7. “Proper places provided and institutions established’: compromise and conflict in the spaces of the public asylum system
8. Conclusion: spaces of madness between ‘the dust’ and ‘the clouds’