List of reasons for admission to an insane asylum in the late 1860s
October 23, 2013 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Here's what could have got you admitted to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane (Weston) aka Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the late 1860s: Imaginary Female Trouble... Jealousy and Religion... Tobacco and Masturbation... Carbonic Acid Gas... Parents were Cousins... Fell off Horse in War... Dangerous Minds
posted by Mister Bijou (73 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Time of Life": The Logan's Run approach to hospitalization.
posted by mittens at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2013


Imaginary Female Trouble... Jealousy and Religion... Tobacco and Masturbation... Carbonic Acid Gas... Fell off Horse in War

And that was just Tuesday night!
posted by bicyclefish at 5:07 PM on October 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


If Jealousy and Religion are reasons for incarceration, can we ask for an intervention for the Republican party?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:10 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


A good friend of mine tweeted this alongside her words, "I guess they would have had me locked up back then."

I never know how to respond to statements like that.
posted by Kitteh at 5:11 PM on October 23, 2013


Masturbation for Thirty Years

Was that one session?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:12 PM on October 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Get this: as per certain Executive Orders made during the Radical Reconstruction, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum went on to absorb the jurisdiction of the entire Federal government of the United States.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2013


Tobacco and Masturbation is the name of my forthcoming autobiography...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 5:15 PM on October 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since I've seen this before and haven't had this adequately answered: What's the source on this?
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on October 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Masturbation for 30 years." Hey, I'm coming up on that now!
posted by darksasami at 5:17 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure the interpretation that these are things that would get you admitted is quite correct. It sounds more like if you were admitted for being nutty, these are the things that you or whoever committed you would put down as the source or evidence of your nuttiness.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:18 PM on October 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Okay, forget taking the kids trick-or-treating, I'm going to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for their annual Geriatrics Ghost Hunt!
posted by mittens at 5:21 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, it's hard to believe that you'd get committed for "bad whisky" or "desertion by husband", but if you were committed for being off the rails, they might put down that as the thing that drove you off them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:21 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Menstrual Deranged"
"Gathering In The Head"
"Vicious Vices"

There are a lot of good band names/sockpuppets on this list.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:23 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's the source on this?

According to Dangerous Minds... Sources: Appalachian History, Grateful Web, West Virginia State Archives, West Virginia Encyclopedia, Steampunk
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep, band names all.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:26 PM on October 23, 2013


"Menstrual Deranged"
"Gathering In The Head"
"Vicious Vices"


New Achewood book names!


Masturbation for 30 years."

300 years of solitude.

Self-love in the time of cholera.
posted by The Whelk at 5:27 PM on October 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Imaginary Female Trouble... Jealousy and Religion... Tobacco and Masturbation... Carbonic Acid Gas... Fell off Horse in War

And that was just Tuesday night!


Right, well that's acute, not chronic.
posted by de at 5:30 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


As I Lay Wanking.

a Good Man Is Hard To Find.
posted by The Whelk at 5:31 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seduction & Disappointment

Might be my autobiography.

Minus the seduction.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:32 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Masturbation for Thirty Years

Wow. Talk about "edging."

And what on earth is Bloody Flux???
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:33 PM on October 23, 2013


Flux:

1
:  a flowing of fluid from the body: as
a :  diarrhea
b :  dysentery
2
:  a continuous moving on or passing by (as of a stream)
3
:  a continued flow :  flood
4
a :  influx
b :  change, fluctuation
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on October 23, 2013


I hear you got Imaginary Female Trouble. I feel bad for you, son.
posted by uosuaq at 5:39 PM on October 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


The Thirty Years' Masturbation was ended by the Treaty of Westphallus, IIRC.
posted by XMLicious at 5:41 PM on October 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


Tobacco and Masturbation - is that the ATF rebranding the Tea Party's going to hold out for in January's debt ceiling stand-off?
posted by Devonian at 5:42 PM on October 23, 2013


Tobacco and Masturbation.

Conan, what is best in life?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:42 PM on October 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is "Imaginary Female Trouble" something to do with Manic Puxie Dream Girls?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Conan, what is best in life?

conan only said that because he had never before had pizza rolls
posted by elizardbits at 5:43 PM on October 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Imaginary Female Trouble

My imaginary female is no trouble, no trouble at all.
posted by tommasz at 5:46 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you took away my bad habits and political excitement, I'm pretty sure there'd be nothing left.
posted by gingerest at 5:58 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Both 'Masturbation' and 'Supressed Masturbation' feature.

So, 100% of the population was in an asylum?
posted by jimmythefish at 5:59 PM on October 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you have an erection lasting thirty years, don't call your doctor.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:01 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bad Habits & Political Excitement - there goes the entire tea party

Egotism - and there goes Ted Cruz

Fever and Loss of Law Suit - never litigate while sick?

Bad Whiskey - Hm, dunno, I've tried a lot of shitty stuff, even a few drams of the infamous Loch Dhu and enough of Mekhong Thai Whisky to get me to the point where I started to enjoy it but I have yet to drink something that will destroy my sanity to the point of needing to be committed.

Deranged Masturbation - sounds exciting
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:03 PM on October 23, 2013


You live and learn: it's Dorothea Dix.
posted by de at 6:04 PM on October 23, 2013


Also, about provenance, according to the linked Applachian History site:
Marjorie E. Carr published a pamphlet in 1993, now in the Weston Hospital Collection at the West Virginia Archives and History, that tells the history of Weston. Her pamphlet includes the following from the first log book used at Weston (list follows)
The Asylum online store carries a T-shirt with a shortened version of the list on the back.
posted by gingerest at 6:05 PM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, 'Salvation Army'? Eh...what?
posted by jimmythefish at 6:06 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please. We prefer to be called imaginary women.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:08 PM on October 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


The Asylum online store carries a T-shirt

I was locked up for bad whiskey, tobacco and masturbation and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


A similar list in the 1790's (?) in England listed "Methodism" as one of the diagnoses.
posted by straight at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2013


So there was a madness to their Methodism?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:14 PM on October 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Novel Reading.
Worse if you bought the novel at the Salvation Army.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:14 PM on October 23, 2013


Both masturbating and suppressed masturbating are on that list. That's not fair!
posted by Justinian at 6:15 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not fair!

Get a second opinion.
posted by de at 6:18 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ooh, I think I get it now. It's like the post-coital cigarette. You can have tobacco AFTER a good non-deranged session of vigorous masturbation lasting 29 years or less but not DURING.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:18 PM on October 23, 2013


Anyone who masturbates for just on 30 years for a cigarette is never going to kick the habit.
posted by de at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2013


I hear you got Imaginary Female Trouble. I feel bad for you, son.

99 problems but Imaginary Female Trouble ain't one, etc.
posted by jokeefe at 6:25 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to family history, which has some support based on census data, my great-grandfather spent some time in a state home for the insane up in east Texas. I don't know what his official reason for admission was, but I strongly suspect that the real reason he ended up in the state's custody was that my great-grandmother, his ex-wife, married a member of the local gentry (who had oil money as well by the time great-grandpa ended up in the home). It would have been very convenient for my great-grandfather to be out of the way.

That's what I think of when I read that list of apparently silly reasons to put someone in a mental institution.
posted by immlass at 6:31 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition: Book of Lamentations
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm saying that this asylum IS the United States.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:09 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we sure this is for real?
posted by edheil at 7:55 PM on October 23, 2013


Are we sure this is for real?

See here
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:15 PM on October 23, 2013


Excessive sexual abuse was a reason. I thought that it might be a euphemism for masturbation, but that's got several headings of its own: self abuse, tobacco & masturbation, masturbation & syphilis, deranged masturbation, masturbation for 30 years, and suppressed masturbation. So I guess that while limited sexual abuse might have problems of its own, at least it wouldn't get you confined in an asylum.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:30 PM on October 23, 2013


"Female trouble" was a euphemism for pregnancy at the time, I believe.
posted by Simon! at 8:33 PM on October 23, 2013


This is fake.
posted by empath at 8:58 PM on October 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, BuzzFeed has picked up on it, which brings its likelihood of being fake WAY UP.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:59 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


But perfect for a BuzzFeed Listicle: "86 Things That Would Have Got You Admitted To An Insane Asylum In The 1800s" I'll bet the BuzzFeeder gets a bonus for a list that long...
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:03 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the list of items in the WV state archives Weston Hospital Collection includes biographical material that Marjorie E. Carr compiled in 1993 about Hospital Superintendent Crumbacker. So the pamphlet credited with the reasons is definitely real, but unless someone goes to the archives and reads it or can find another copy, we can't tell for sure.

Still, it's more creditable than many of the things my elderly relatives post to Facebook.

Also, although I agree that "female trouble" might be an unwanted pregnancy, and thus "imaginary female trouble" could mean "hysterical/false pregnancy", "female trouble(s)" also meant pelvic pain, menorrhagia, or intracyclic vaginal bleeding. I would really not put it past a nineteenth-century doctor to class any woman having pelvic pain without menstrual bleeding or obvious abnormality as having "imaginary female trouble".
posted by gingerest at 9:14 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is fake.

You might want to take that up with the people who sell on-site and online a T-shirt featuring a selection from 'reasons to be admitted': Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:30 PM on October 23, 2013


This is fake.

Aren't these just "go nuts" entries in patients' files made by doctors of the day having mouthed the tips of their pens wondering what to write next to 'reason for admission (be specific)'?
posted by de at 9:36 PM on October 23, 2013


This list is suspiciously similar to the complaints about The Simpsons...
posted by Pudhoho at 9:43 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The OED says about "hysteria":
Path. [i.e., pathology] A functional disturbance of the nervous system, characterized by such disorders as anæsthesia, hyperæsthesia, convulsions, etc., and usually attended with emotional disturbances and enfeeblement or perversion of the moral and intellectual faculties. (Also called colloquially hysterics.)
   Women being much more liable than men to this disorder, it was originally thought to be due to a disturbance of the uterus and its functions: cf. hysteric and the Ger. term mutterweh.
So yeah, "female troubles".
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:43 PM on October 23, 2013


Imaginary Female Trouble might be my favorie Imaginary John Waters movie. I also enjoy Imaginary Desperate Living and Imaginary Polyester.

Imaginary Multiple Maniacs is a bit too on the nose for the subject at hand.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:22 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, these sound more like "precipitating causes of mental illness" rather than "reasons for admission"

For example: "The War, Marriage of Son, and Kicked In The Head By A Horse."

"Time of Life" is I believe menopause.
"Suppression of Menses" may have been anorexia.
posted by corb at 5:20 AM on October 24, 2013


Imprisoned for life, by your husband - Mrs. Packard and the insane asylum.
posted by caddis at 6:24 AM on October 24, 2013


I once worked with a scary guy who used to go on and on about what a travesty it was that he couldn't just call up some authority and get his brother committed. For a while people tried to explain to him that if the law allowed that to happen before a person did something to show that he was a danger to himself or others, it would be just as easy for his brother to call someone up and get him committed.

It eventually turned out he had been having an affair with his brother's wife, and the brother took off and they moved in together. He left the job, and last I heard of him he and the wife were arrested for what appeared to be a racially-motivated assault on some stranger in a parking lot.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:58 AM on October 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a shitty brother. Can't have him committed for it or arrested for it, but dude.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:15 AM on October 24, 2013


So, 100% of the population was in an asylum?

Committing people used to be a pretty common social control mechanism. It was once much easier to commit people if you had the right connections, and people were often committed for more or less social reasons (to get them out of the way, to discredit them, all sorts of random reasons). Nietzsche ended up being committed because he attacked a man for flogging his horse too much (sounds like a euphemism for something but it's not). Around the same time and in letters written during his incarceration, he also happened to be very angrily scolding Wagner and other well-respected social elites for their antisemitism (in one such letter he declares that he's going to round up all the anti-Semites and have them shot), but that was all just further evidence of the madness that got him committed in the first place, of course. I've always suspected Nietzsche's madness was played up to discredit his latter-day political and social activism--particularly his inconvenient opposition to antisemitism.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:36 AM on October 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I got 99 imaginary female troubles and they are all a bitch.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:11 AM on October 24, 2013


As someone who reads a lot of newspapers of the time period, I can tell you that this sounds very real to me. People got committed all the time, and sometimes it was because the neighbor reported them for being weird/insane. Then they would be arrested (yes, arrested) and sent up to the local asylum. Getting out weren't easy neither.
posted by RedEmma at 9:21 AM on October 24, 2013


Thank of how easy it is to get put in jail nowadays, and it doesn't seem so out there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2013


These sound like the reasons people gave (or their families gave) and less like official diagnoses.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:18 PM on October 24, 2013


Your Uncle Bob's not going to be around for a while, he's got a touch of the masturbation-for-thirty-years.
posted by XMLicious at 2:42 PM on October 24, 2013


Mister Bijou: "Are we sure this is for real?

See here
"

That only sources it; doesn't mean the source facts aren't taken wildly out of context to create clickbait.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2013


I am pretty sure the original goal is old-school advertising, that is, the intention is to get people to buy tickets to go on ghost tours of the "Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum" (formerly the Weston Hospital), and T-shirts, not so much the new-school notion of getting people to click on things to make money from advertisers.
posted by gingerest at 11:07 PM on October 28, 2013


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