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Lunacy in the 19th Century: Women's Admission to Asylums in United States of America.

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Pouba, Katherine; Tianen, Ashley
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh Scholar, Volume 1, 2006
May 2006
Insane -- Committment and detention -- 19th century.; Status of women -- United States -- 19th century.; Mentally ill women -- Treatment -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Between the years of 1850-1900, women were placed in mental institutions for behaving in ways that male society did not agree with. Women during this time period had minimal rights, even concerning their own mental health. Research concluded that many women were admitted for reasons that could be questionable. Since the 19th century, many of the symptoms women experience according to admittance records would not make a woman eligible for admittance to a mental asylum today. Women with symptoms were later diagnosed insane by reasons such as religious excitement, epilepsy, and suppressed menustruation. The symptoms and diagnoses presented, show that labeling of women as insane was done very lightly and was influenced by social attitudes toward women. Did these women truly need to be admitted to asylums, or was their admittance an example of their lack of power to control their own lives? Further research could raise additional questions such as a comparison of the rate of admittance between American-born and immigrant women.
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