Sunday, 14 August 2011

nellie bly - 10 days in a madhouse

This was kind of interesting, but because l have worked in so called 'madhouses' in the past, and also read about workhouses etc in the late eighteen hundreds it also wasn't a surprise to hear about the atrocious conditions and treatment that was received by Nellie in this book.
Nellie was the pseudonym of Elizabeth Cochran, who volunteered to go undercover in a 'lunatic asylum' to expose the harsh treatment that was being administered at the time.
The book resulted in a change of funding for asylums and made her famous.
The asylum was on Roosevelt Island (at the time called Blackwells, later Welfare) and l wish l had known about it years ago, as l have been to the lsland, wandered around, and seen the remains of the old building (but was not aware what it was at the time).
The conditions were as l expected (very bad) and the administration process was also rubbish, as she easily fooled the 'professionals' that she was insane.
The only thing that surprised me was the fact there were no sexual advances towards her, as she was young and also not acting too crazily. The offhand and harsh treatment was no surprise at all.
One of the worst things you take away after reading the book was the fact that she got out after her 10 days, whereas she says she spoke to other women inside the 'madhouse' who she also considered sane, but were destined never to be released ( a bit like the Asylums in the UK until recently).
A classy woman ahead of her times, who also repeated the Phileas Fogg 'Around The World In 80 Days' exploits, and she was a pioneer as far as woman's rights and respect went, but..... the only that l feel uneasy about is she married a millionaire when she was 31 (and he was 40 years older).
It reminds me of the Mrs Merton sketch when she asks Debbie McGee 'What interested you in the multi millionaire Paul Daniels?

toodle pip

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