Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill in North Wales, 1800-2000

Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill in North Wales, 1800-2000

Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill in North Wales, 1800-2000

Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill in North Wales, 1800-2000

Excerpt

This book is the fruit of research carried out initially (1993–6) in the School of History and Welsh History in the University of Wales Bangor, with financial support from the Wellcome Trust (Grant no. 038862). I wish to acknowledge the Trust’s financial investment in this project, along with the opportunity given to me to discuss substantive issues in the research of madness with other scholars in the field. I acknowledge the support and cooperation of Clwyd Health Authority and the Clwydian Health Trust for allowing me access to records and for their support of the project.

My sincere thanks to my colleagues in University of Wales, Bangor, to Professor R. Merfyn Jones, Dr William Griffith and Dr David Hirst. They devised the project and then gave me the freedom to pursue the research. I have gained immensely from their support and collaboration. They are, however, in no way responsible for the views expressed in this book, nor answerable for any of the deficiencies. My own personal approach will be obvious.

I do not believe that any researcher can be wholly objective, but that the closest we can get is to acknowledge our own involvement and subjectivity. As Liz Stanley and Sue Wise have pointed out ‘the presence of the researcher’s self’ is central in all research. Therefore a brief statement of my own engagement with this history is called for, in order that readers understand from the beginning my own involvement and place in this history.

I paid my first research visit to the ‘Denbigh Hospital’ on 12 November 1993. It was a cold, crisp morning, but bright. When I drove down Castle Hill and turned the corner, and caught my first solitary glimpse of the asylum, the picture before me almost caught my breath. The asylum faces east and, as the wintry sun rose over the hill, it was bathed in a deep golden light. The stonework of this Jacobean-style structure is naturally of a mellow amber, but the rays of sun amplified the contours, and made the vast solid walls of the structure, set in parkland tinged that morning with frost, somehow ethereal. At this moment was born an enduring fascination with the architecture of asylumdom.

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