Thursday, 10 September 2015

Lunacy in scotland

In the thirteenth annual report of the General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland there is a wealth of detailed statistics, tables and reports covering all aspects.  A few examples of the tables are:  number and distribution of the insane, causes of the increase of Pauper Patients, Proportion of Private to Pauper Patients, and return of expenditure on account of Pauper Lunatics during the year 1869.
One table is about the number of deaths, it states
“The number of deaths of both sexes is greatest in winter; but the tendency to death is in summer greater among females than males.  This is shown in the following table

We have not the means of ascertaining whither the difference which this Table shows to exist between the male and female mortality in asylums in summer and in winter extends to the general population.”
It continues that if a comparison was done “it would probably be found that in winter there are more deaths from pulmonary disease among males than among females; and in summer more deaths from abdominal disease among females than among males.”
There is a description about the functions of attendants in the asylums.
“Attendants, however, are frequently not trustworthy and are occasionally even guilty of harshness and cruelty.  Nor is this surprising.  The life of an asylum attendant is one which presents few attractions, and its rewards are inconsiderable…..Many dislike the work, or their health suffers and they leave after a short trial.  Others are soon discharged for incapacity, inattention, drunkenness, insubordination, cruelty, or some similar cause.”

There are tables about the nature of accidents and in which asylum the accident occurred.  One such accident was in Argyll where there was an unintentional suicide by drinking carbolic acid.  Another one from Stirling was "fracture of the fourth metatarsal bone in trying to kick another patient."
There is an extensive amount of information in this report and the report can be found in the House of Lords papers, session 1871 volume 45.

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