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Bedlam Tuesday/Bethlem Royal Hospital

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have always been drawn to the way our minds work. I'm fascinated with movies and/or books like A Beautiful Mind, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Inception, Shutter Island, Ordinary People and even the humorous side of mental illness in What About Bob? rings true to life for patients when their therapists or psychiatrists leave for vacation. If you've never seen the movie K-PAX it's very interesting, and Jack Nicholson in, As Good As It Gets, can teach us all a little bit about the difficulties of mental illness for the person with the illness and for those around them.

My first historical romance, Secrets of the Heart, Book One in the Ravensmoore Chronicles, that releases in May 2011 will take you on a journey where some of the aspects of mental health and mental illness are explored in England during 1817. The more I researched for this book and my next, with the current working title of Chameleon, the more fascinated I became. Of course the treatment of mental illness was in its infancy in those days and the days prior to that. Many thought mental illness was due to demon possession. The archaic methods of treatment were barbaric for centuries.

Originally the priory of St. Mary Bethlehem, Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as Bedlam began admitting patients who were considered unbalanced or mentally ill in 1357.  Unlike the United States Bethlem was admitting patients when we were keeping patients in jails and alms houses.This hospital originally stood at Bishopsgate and then moved to Moorfields and eventually to St George’s Fields, Southwark.

If you would like to explore more about the fascinating facts of this institution please follow this link.

What book or movie influenced the way you think about mental illness?


  1. There is a lot of info out there about old asylums and poorhouses. I know, 'cause I've been looking too!
    Nice info, Jillian!

  2. Hey Debra!
    It's kind of scary. The more information I uncover from Great Britain and the USA the more obsessed I get with the whole issue of mental health through the ages. Keep me posted on your discoveries.