Case Study II (1890-1929)

G., a 39 year-old factory hand, was admitted to the DCLA under the 1890 Lunacy Act on the 29th September 1892. He was experiencing his first attack and his admission documents reveal that he was considered a danger to the public after threatening ‘his wife with a red hot poker’.

G. had not experienced any previous attacks, but his mother had been afflicted with insanity and the doctor concluded that G. must have inherited the illness. G. was certified as a ‘person of unsound mind’ by medical practitioner Arthur Wooldridge of Harbertonford. Wooldridge expanded on the facts of insanity he observed in G., considering him increasingly ‘reticent and morose’ and alluding to delusions that manifested themselves in ‘hear[ing] people at the other end of the world talking about him’. Importantly, no act of violence had been observed by the medical practitioner, but he noted on the certification form that G.’s wife told him that he had ‘threatened to kill her with a red-hot poker two days [before]’.

G.’s mental examination upon admission reveals that he was ‘aware of his surroundings […] but indifferent to them’. He was diagnosed with ‘melancholia’ – although his case notes indicate that ‘general paralysis’ was suspected at first. One of the first observations on G.’s progress in hospital about one week after his admission was his failure to employ himself. It was also noted that he was ‘easily managed and quiet’, and that in his second week he started to work well. Then, however, his treatment seemed to fail, as G. was getting worse instead of progressing and his three-monthly entries state that he experienced ‘no change’. As he kept getting worse and starting to dement, in March 1907 his case was transferred to the ‘Chronic Casebook’ – indicating that discharge would be a rather unlikely option for him.

G. died in the DCLA in 1918 from dysentery after almost 26 years of hospitalisation.