This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Models of Moral Treatment: British Lunatic Asylums in the Mid-Nineteenth Century




Spain, Austin

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Samuel Tuke established a model of moral treatment for British insane asylums in the first half of the nineteenth century with his Description of the Retreat (1813). The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Wakefield—under the direction of William Charles Ellis and, later, Charles Caesar Corsellis—took up Tuke’s model and changed it into a passive system of custodianship. The Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell first employed the passive model of moral treatment developed at Wakefield, but then shifted to an active model when John Conolly implemented his non-restraint system. Moral treatment as practiced in British asylums in the first half of the nineteenth century was not psychiatry or psychology—as scholarship on the subject has typically described it—but existed as many different models of treatment all of which were contingent upon decisions made by various members of the public.