Architecture of Madness Insane Asylums in the United States
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Description: Elaborately conceived, grandly constructed insane asylums-ranging in appearance from classical temples to Gothic castles-were once a common sight looming on the outskirts of American towns and cities. Many of these buildings were razed long ago, and those that remain stand as grim reminders of an often cruel system. For much of the nineteenth century, however, these asylums epitomized the widely held belief among doctors and social reformers that insanity was a curable disease and that environment-architecture in particular-was the most effective means of treatment. nbsp; InThe Architecture of Madness,Carla Yanni tells a compelling story of therapeutic design, from Americarsquo;s earliest purpose-built institutions for the insane to the asylum construction frenzy in the second half of the century. At the center of Yannirsquo;s inquiry is Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, a Pennsylvania-born Quaker, who in the 1840s devised a novel way to house the mentally diseased that emphasized segregation by severity of illness, ease of treatment and surveillance, and ventilation. After the Civil War, American architects designed Kirkbride-plan hospitals across the country. nbsp; Before the end of the century, interest in the Kirkbride plan had begun to decline. Many of the asylums had deteriorated into human warehouses, strengthening arguments against the monolithic structures advocated by Kirkbride. At the same time, the medical profession began embracing a more neurological approach to mental disease that considered architecture as largely irrelevant to its treatment. nbsp; Generously illustrated,The Architecture of Madnessis a fresh and original look at the American medical establishmentrsquo;s century-long preoccupation with therapeutic architecture as a way to cure social ills. nbsp; Carla Yanni is associate professor of art history at Rutgers University and the author ofNaturersquo;s Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display.
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Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 4/12/2007
Size: 8.25" wide x 10.75" long x 0.50" tall
|Transforming the treatment : architecture and moral management|
|Establishing the type : the development of Kirkbride plan hospitals and hope for an architectural cure|
|Breaking down : the cottage plan for asylums|
|Building up : hospitals for the insane after the Civil War|
|Conclusion : the changing spaces of mental illness|
|Note on terminology|
|Occupations of patients in 1850|
|Cost of lunatic asylums in 1877|
|Comparative sizes of asylums, 1770-1872|