One specific woman in the 1850’s by the name of Emma Riches was placed in the mental asylum after having a child and suffering from postnatal/Post-Postpartum depression (Both are the same thing) which is “A prolonged period of depression, flattened affect, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia which begins within a few weeks of delivery and may last for months. It is viewed as a stress reaction”(1). In her time though they called it “puerperal insanity”. Emma Riches case though was not met with crazy,horrible attempts to cure her as far as we know. She was put in a straight dress and when her photo was taken (Below) an attendant’s hand restrained her own.
What is also known about Emma Riches is that she had gone through the depression with her last three children as well and had been admitted to the asylum before. While in the asylum she responded to nothing, she would not speak and was forced to eat, and though often coaxed by attendants to try to sew or help cook she did relatively nothing. A year after having her newest child and being diagnosed with puerperal insanity Emma was proclaimed to be cured and sent home to her four children.
So this is proof, that no, not all “Insane” people in the 1800’s (Or at least the 1850’s) were cured with certain things like sensory deprivement. But that doesn’t mean that every case was treated the same way as Emma’s…
(1) “The Free Dictionary by Farlex.” Post-Partum Depression. Segens Medical Dictionary Farlex Inc, n.d. Web. 11 Feb 2014. <http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Postnatal depression>.
Wallace, Wendy. “Sent to the asylum: The Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety .” Associated Newspapers Ltd, 16 May 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2141741/Sent-asylum-The-Victorian-women-locked-suffering-stress-post-natal-depression-anxiety.html>.