"Even the most ignorant among the insane are not beyond the reach of instruction" : l'école à l'Asile de Hanwell ou le pari controversé d'un aliéniste engagé (1839-1853)

Abstract : Dr John Conolly (1794-1866) was one of the major figures in Victorian psychiatry. He became famous thanks to his work as medical superintendent of Hanwell Pauper Lunatic Asylum, located about 10 miles west of London. As soon as he was appointed there, in 1839, he implemented a whole new policy of non-restraint, which was applied on an unprecedented scale, more than 1,000 patients being involved. One of the main features of this therapeutic method was the strong emphasis placed on the quality of the patients’ environment and way of life, connected to a pioneering conception of mental health care that broadly corresponded to what is known today as ‘occupational therapy’. Education was also a central issue in Dr Conolly’s programme, and a school was established at the asylum on his initiative. The teaching methods and practices used were based on motivation, self-confidence and encouragement, and were clearly reminiscent of a certain vision of education promoted by Owenites, standing in sharp contrast to British contemporary teaching methods. One only has to take a look at a few pages from Robert Dale Owen’s book, An Outline of the System of Education at New Lanark, published in 1824, to be struck by how similar both approaches were. The issue of education within the Asylum was highly debated and remained constantly controversial. John Conolly, who had close links with popular education movements, but also Chartism and Owenism, relentlessly promoted education for pauper lunatics throughout his whole career at Hanwell. In doing so, not only did he experiment an innovative therapeutic approach, but he also took part in the broader debate over popular education, one of the most widely debated issues of the Victorian era. Thus, the social and political dimensions of his fight should not be underrated.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas

https://hal-univ-paris10.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01725919
Contributor : Administrateur Hal Nanterre <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 4:47:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 24, 2018 - 10:37:10 AM

Links full text

Identifiers

Collections

Citation

Laurence Dubois. "Even the most ignorant among the insane are not beyond the reach of instruction" : l'école à l'Asile de Hanwell ou le pari controversé d'un aliéniste engagé (1839-1853). Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, Montpellier : Centre d'études et de recherches victoriennes et édouardiennes, 2016, ⟨10.4000/cve.2590⟩. ⟨hal-01725919⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

54