Catherine Cox
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Inside the asylums
in Negotiating insanity in the southeast of Ireland, 1820–1900
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This chapter provides some understanding of life in Enniscorthy and Carlow asylums for staff and patients by exploring the management and treatment regimes. Inside the asylums, the staff members in most regular contact with patients were the keepers and the matron. Dr Thomas Drapes and other medical superintendents at Enniscorthy and Carlow asylums recorded the presence of biological pathologies of insanity such as hereditary influences and general paralysis among patients, although these did not eclipse moral causes. Detailed regulations governing asylum record keeping, and the format of casebooks, emerged slowly in Ireland, and when they were introduced asylum authorities were often unaware of the regulations. William Saunders Hallaran's theories influenced the management and therapeutic regimes introduced to the asylums in the 1820s and 1830s. Patients' experiences were heterogeneous and they interpreted the regime's focus on employment, work, religious observance and medical interventions variously as therapy, exploitation, punishment and danger.

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