One short essay (300) words and two responses to two opinions 150 words each.
Choose one of three women's stories (Bingham,Agnew, Packard) and write short essay of 300 words which will include: details on her hospital admission; the role of her husband in precipitating her admission; the conditions in the Asylum where she was detained and how she was treated there? Ultimately what was the impact on her children and her family? What precipitated her release and what was her readjustment after release?
Also include: reforms achieved by the women in question, The variability in admission criteria for women and men, and the lack of an appeals process for women.
*Please include citations from the attached readings to back up any assertions made
Respond to opinion 1:
Following her own account, one early morning, Alice Bingham Russell was taken by the sheriff without any forewarning and based on the accusation of her husband "to be examined for insanity". It appears that her husband did not have to provide any proof to substantiate his accusation. The conditions of the asylum are harsh. But beside a lack of hygiene and comfort for all inmates, favoritism is played by the keeper. The friendless patients that do not have anyone to fight for their right are exposed to oppression and the harshest treatment.
However also all other inmates have to live with the realization that their previous life has no further meaning. As virtuous and religious as they may have lived, this did not matter anymore. As financially well off they may have been, as great their status in society was, this did not matter anymore. The admittance into the asylum also cemented the fear as the stigma was now recorded: "The court's records show you have had a trial as to your sanity." and therefore discredits everything thereafter and in case you were as lucky to be released, your re-admittance was even easier and likely.
The impact on her children was not mentioned, however it must have been tremendous during her four months of unjust incarceration. Especially, as the confinement was initiated by their father, Alice Bingham Russell's husband.
She was eventually released as her friends vouched for her in court and attested that she was sane.
After her release, Alice Bingham Russell became an advocate for wrongfully admitted women and visited many of them and had their accounts written down. She made the public aware of the common admission of women by their husbands and of the harsh treatment and oppression that ruled within the asylum. With this Mrs. Bingham Russell helped improve the asylum conditions and she had the admission protocol improved.
Reasons for women's admission to an asylum were the following:
- husbands wanted them to be removed from the house to allow a mistress to take their place
- husband or others wanted to gain access to their property
Reasons for women to remain in an asylum although they were perfectly healthy:
- lack of friends to vouch for their sanity
- lack of funds to convince a paid official monetarily to grant freedom
An asylum had several monetary advantages through their inmates:
- the inmates worked while at the asylum (e.g. Mrs. Bingham Russell cooked for the doctors at her asylum)
- upon admission the better clothes were taken from the admitted
- upon death, even the bodies were sold
Opinion 2: will provided separately
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