Hello, pleased to meet you!

Hello and welcome to my new blog!

I aim to use my knowledge of both psychology and family and local history to explore the history of mental health in the UK, and in particular some of the human stories behind the asylum system. It is my belief that mental health problems should not  be a shameful family secret and that under the right circumstances anybody could become mentally ill.

Although attitudes towards mental health are generally becoming more enlightened, in the recent and more distant past this has not always been the case. Many of you will recognise the allusion to Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester’s first wife in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She is the archetypal “madwoman in the attic“, and encapsulates for me the fear, secrecy, and stigma that can surround mental illness. I hope you’ll join me in remembering and trying to understand the fictional Mrs Rochester and her real-life counterparts.

I would like to say from the outset that I am hoping to draw on real-life stories to illustrate mental health difficulties, and the systems that are put in place to deal with these problems. However, it is not my intention to invade anybody’s privacy and I apologise in advance if I inadvertently cause distress or offence.

I hope to be hearing from you,



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