Published: 12/08/2016
eISBN: 9781785897146
Format: eBook



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Alastair Robson was born in London and read medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He is married with a son and daughter and was in general practice in Warwickshire for more than thirty years. ... read more

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Unrecognised by the World at Large
A biography of Dr Henry Parsey, Physician to the Hatton Asylum, Warwick
by Alastair Robson

The building of asylums throughout the country in the middle of the 19th Century expressly for the pauper mentally ill, who would otherwise have had no means of obtaining any medical care at all for themselves or their family members, was enlightened thinking by the Victorians.

Victorian doctors of the mentally ill (or 'alienists' as they were known) were dedicated physicians who laboured under difficult circumstances to provide care, and occasionally cure, for their patients, whose numbers were to rise remorselessly throughout the Century.

This biography of Dr Henry Parsey, the first physician to the Warwick Asylum at Hatton, is a study of a 19C. provincial alienist’s medical training and career - with an intimate glimpse of his domestic life in his last years – and discusses extensively the care of the mentally ill (such as it was) before - and after - the asylum era.

Dr Parsey was a pupil of two of the most famous English physicians to the mentally ill, Dr John Conolly and Sir John Bucknill; both of whom had been in medical practice in Warwickshire.

Under Dr Henry Parsey’s supervision, the Warwick Asylum was internationally respected for the excellence of its care, yet he remained ‘unrecognised by the world at large’: he merits the same recognition given to other illustrious Victorian alienists.

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This is a succinct telling of Dr Henry Parsey (1821-1884) who is a ground breaking doctor in regards to the care of both the mentally ill and those with disabilities in a time not known for its compassion.
There are fascinating snippets of information tucked away in the appendix's, for example, the hospital sent monks out with giant baskets to go beg for food and clothing for the patients, hence the lunatics were known as basket cases.
This book looks at the care of the insane before the Country Asylum Act of 1845, which as one would imagine was quite horrendous. This book looks at who taught Dr. Parsey and their insights in looking after the mentally ill, which was to have a profound impact of how Dr Parsey worked in his own practise. It looks at things such as the design of the hospital and even the diet of the patients. It gives detailed records of some patients who spent their whole life in the asylum.
There are enough dates and names to please the factual historian and enough tidbits to please readers who have a more social interest in the topic.

by Courtney Stuart (NetGalley reviewer)


 

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