This fascinating study presents a unique history of psychiatry in the twentieth century. It brings together the memories and narratives of over sixty patients and workers who lived, or were employed, in Severalls Psychiatric Hospital, Essex, UK. Personal accounts are contextualised both in relation to wider developments and issues in twentieth-century mental health, and in relation to policies and changes in the hospital itself.
Organised around the theme of space and place, and drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative material, chapters deal with key areas such as gender divisions, power relations, patterns of admission and discharge, treatments, and the daily lives and routines of patients and nurses of both sexes.
'This book provides fascinating examples of the way in which oral history can be used to elicit some of the 'hidden histories' of an institution.....Mental health care now happens in different places and spaces, but this book provides a compelling record of a system which will continue to provoke debate far into the future.'John Adams, oral History, Autumn 1998, Memory, Trauma, Ethics
'What could have been a collection of reminiscences has become an evocative and thought-provoking synthesis of the experiences of the Severalls communities in the twentieth century and an invitation to reflect on the future of mental health care in the twenty-first.' - Economic History Society, Nov 2000