RecoveredIn the ten years I have been researching the patients of the Bristol Lunatic Asylum, the thing that most struck me was the disparity between the popular view of asylums and the results of my studies. They were seen as as dreadful barbaric hellholes from which, once entered, you would never return but my studies showed a different more complex picture. Many patients suffered greatly during their time at the asylum but this was mostly because of their  mental and or physical problems. Many had conditions that were then incurable such as syphilis or epilepsy. On admission many were suicidal or severely paranoid. There were few drugs and little medical knowledge. Despite these problems of the population of some 5,000 from 1861-1900, 46% did leave the hospital relieved to resume their previous lives. Most (70%) of these patients left within a year of their admission. When researching the patient stories, those who spent many years there seem more interesting, as there was much more written about them, but this can paint a false picture. So I have made a short film about those who recovered. The film examines the figures for recoveries  and concentrates on the stories of three patients who did recover,  Ada Harriet Brooks, Alice Wells and Hubert Stagg. Their stories are very different, their mental health problems were very different but with the help of the asylum they managed to recover. The film does seem pertinent to these difficult times.

You can find ‘Recoveries’: the film on my YouTube channel called Loft Films where you will also find the other two films I made about the asylum. Have a look and do please subscribe to the channel.

The films could not have been made without the assistance of the Glenside Hospital Museum.

Thank you

Dr. Paul Tobia