Exploration of the use of mental hospitals in Ireland from 1800 - 2000 kicks off lecture series at School of Nursing and Midwifery
Oct 29, 2013
The opening lecture of the popular annual lecture series at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin which took place last week, looked behind the figures on institutional confinement which saw Ireland in the 1950s having the world’s highest rate of mental hospital residency.
The lecture, entitled Irish Insanity- The Excessive use of Mental Hospitals in Ireland, was given by Dr Damien Brennan, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity and is based on his new book, Irish Insanity 1800-2000, which was launched after the lecture. He proposes that there was no epidemic of 'insanity' in Ireland, rather that the levels of institutional confinement occurred in response to social forces, along with the actions of the individuals, families and professional groups who directly carried out the act of committal.
Pictured at the lecture Irish
Insanity- The Excessive use of Mental Hospitals in Ireland are (l-r):
Professor Agnes Higgins, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery; Dr Damien
Brennan, Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing and Midwifery; Professor
Mary McCarron, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Senator Ivana Bacik,
Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at the School of Law
Speaking about the lecture Dr Brennan said: "While Irish mental hospitals were the largest institutions of confinement in the state, they have not been critically examined in the same way as institutions that were church-state partnerships. The excessive level of mental hospital use in Ireland had little to do with the mental state of the admitted individual, rather it was driven by factors such as law, economic circumstances, professional politics, poor levels of accountability, loose definitions of insanity and the direct actions of families involved in the committal process."
The 'Tell Me About' public lecture series comprises of seven lectures and is presented as part of Trinity's School of Nursing and Midwifery Civic Engagement Strategy. Further information on this lecture series is available at: http://nursing-midwifery.tcd.ie/events-conferences/public_lecture_series_2013-14.php
Yolanda Kennedy, Press Officer for the Faculty of Health Sciences, Trinity College Dublin at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: + 353 1 8963551
About Irish Insanity 1800-2000
"By the 1950s ireland had the dubious honour of having the world's highest rate of mental hospital residency. This book demonstrates that there was no epidemic of 'insanity' in Ireland, rather this institutional confinement occurred in response to social forces, along with the actions of the individuals, families and professional groups who directly carried out the act of committal. The state-run mental hospitals were the largest institutions of confinement in Ireland, however, unlike institutions that were church/state partnerships, mental hospitals have not undergone extensive public scrutiny to date. This book offers an empirically based analysis of the social, cultural, economic and political dynamics that have underpinned the excessive confinement of Irish people in mental hospitals." Irish Insanity: 1800-2000 is published by Routledge Advances in Sociology and is available now on Amazon.