The Victorian Era ushered in several significant changes with regard to medicine and the treatment of the ill. Shifting political mores brought forth increased investment in public health institutions — one of which included the lunatic asylum, a product of the nascent medical practice of psychiatry.

Though intended as a refuge for the sick, the asylum operated more as a correctional institution than a treatment facility. This perhaps stemmed from the fact that not just the ill resided in the site: as prisons became overcrowded, criminals often carried out their sentence in the asylum, while others used the institution as a dumping ground for unwanted dependents.

Given the need to generate funds in order to maintain the burgeoning medical institution, the asylum used its residents — sick, criminal, poor — as revenue sources. This culminated in the general public paying to visit the asylum, creating a circus-like environment for those in treatment.

Below, we look at the striking portraits of those whose lives were confined to the brutish mental institutions of Victorian England:

Arms Crossed
Mental Patients
37 Haunting Portraits Of 19th Century Mental Asylum Patients
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Next, see our other posts on creepy vintage Halloween costumes and the real story behind Bedlam, the world's most infamous insane asylum.

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