What is it about?

This paper investigates the role of admission forms in the regulation of asylum confinement in the second half of the nineteenth century. Taking the Toronto Lunatic Asylum as a case study it traces the evolution of the forms’ content and structure during the first decades of this institution. Admission forms provide important material for understanding the medico-legal assessment of lunacy in a certain jurisdiction. First, they show how the description of insanity depended on a plurality of actors. Second, doctors were not necessarily required to indicate symptoms of derangement. Third, patients’ relatives played a fundamental role in providing clinical information.

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Why is it important?

This paper invites scholars to consider the function of standardized documents in shaping the written identity of individuals.


How do standardized documents inform ordinary practices?

Filippo Maria Sposini
University of Toronto

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The paper technology of confinement: evolving criteria in admission forms (1850–73), History of Psychiatry, January 2021, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0957154x20985331.
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