Book Review Short: Homes for the Mad

It’s summer and I want to be outside playing with The Five-Year-Old. While that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading, it does mean I don’t want to spend a lot of time reviewing. Hence, the book review short.

Homes for the Mad
By Ellen Dwyer
Rutgers University Press, 1987

I came across this book in the course of doing research for my novel-in-progress, Asylum. I found it to be a very readable and quite interesting comparison of daily life within two of New York’s asylums in the 19th C — one targeted to the care of acutely ill and the other for those diagnosed as chronically insane.

It was also one of the few (and perhaps the only) books I’ve read on the subject which presents the daily life not only of the doctor and patient, but of the attendants as well. Dwyer’s account makes clear that for much of the 19th C, the attendants were just as much a prisoner of the asylum system as the patients were.


About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at, or musing about books and the writing life at
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