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Mental Disability in Victorian EnglandThe Earlswood Asylum 1847-1901$
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David Wright

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199246397.001.0001

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Care in the Community

Care in the Community

(p.46) 3 Care in the Community
Mental Disability in Victorian England


Oxford University Press

The movement to community care for mentally disabled persons in the last quarter of the 20th century has precipitated a reevaluation of the asylum era. Recent research has revealed that community and familial networks were not only important to the confinement process; they persisted throughout the asylum era, in parallel to formal medical institutions. The persistence of community and household care and control of idiots and lunatics was not unknown to the authorities responsible for regulating asylums. An analysis of the families successfully located in the decennial census household enumerators' schedules strongly suggests that the pre-institutional environment of caring for idiot children was the household of the parents. It is widely known that the wealthier families in Victorian England chose to care for their sick and disabled within the household. The medical certificates of insanity provide clues to the way in which Victorians responded to, and identified, idiocy.

Keywords:   community care, household care, families, idiocy, mental disability, children, medical certificates, insanity, asylums

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