A Method to the Madhouse by: Ashley Silverman

A brave investigative journalist named Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, better known as Nellie Bly, was born on May 5th 1864 in Cochrans Mills Pennsylvania. No one would have known that she would have grown up to be one of the most important people for patients in institutions. “She went undercover, spent 10 horrifying days with the women, and exposed the inhumane treatment they received at the hands of the staff” (Valente). “The story became an overnight sensation and led to a much-needed reform in mental health procedures"

Thesis

NELLIE BLY HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON AMERICA’S INSTITUTIONS BY GOING UNDERCOVER IN A MENTAL HOSPITAL, EXPOSING THE NEGLECT AND ABUSE INside AND HELPING to CHANGE INSTITUTIONAL LAWS.

Getting in

Elizabeth realized that she could either go to her friends house and feign insanity or go to the police. Elizabeth and her editor decided to deem herself as crazy and it take it from there (Bly).

Abuse

The abuse was so severe that it “included feeding the patients vermin-infested food, [and] physical and mental abuse by the staff"” (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman). Further, staff members would go as far as “shaving [a] patient's head and washing it with vinegar, making [a] patient stand under a waterfall, or pouring cold water on his or her head. The reasoning behind these practices held that if the patient is "out of his or her head," the problem must lie within the head itself” (Gobler-Hover).

Neglect

"If they spouted nonsense and could not communicate, they were isolated from those who could talk sensibly" (Gobler-Hover). Isolating a patient is very damaging to the patient and definitely very inhumane, especially because of the fact that they need around the clock attention and can not be forgotten about.

Institutional Laws

Come to find out that the hospital was obviously admitting “people who were not psychologically disturbed”, as shown through Elizabeth's experience (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman). More shockingly, some patients were “maliciously placed there by family members--as in the case of one woman who was declared insane by her husband after he caught her being unfaithful" (Elizabeth Cochran Seaman). Elizabeth helped to implement a law to make sure every person in an institution had a purpose being there.

Conclusion

Elizabeth had a profound effect on institutions. She was able to stop the abuse and neglect that was happening to patients. As well as change the loose regulations that allowed sane people into the institution. Elizabeth was able to change institutions to ensure safety and fairness to any patient inside a facility.

Credits:

Created with images by georginamary - "Asylum"

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