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Face to Face: Stories from the Asylum

Face to Face: Stories from the Asylum Image
An exploration of patients' lives through photographs and histories.

Our understanding of the Victorian lunatic asylum, and our perception of the history of psychiatry, is often fed by myth and fiction. The nineteenth century did indeed see a massive rise in the building of asylums, as institutional care became the dominant means of caring for the insane.

But what do we know of the lives of those who entered them as patients? How did they experience mental illness?

'Face to Face: Stories from the Asylum' is a touring exhibition exploring the lives of a small group of patients admitted to Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum between 1886 and 1902. Using information and photographs from their case notes, the exhibition examines the circumstances which led to their committal to the asylum, the dilemmas faced by their families, and the nature of their mental illness.

Looking at examples from the past is a valuable way to consider the social and cultural contexts that create understandings of mental disorders. Through the poignant stories of past sufferers, the exhibition aims to engage with contemporary concerns about the experience of mental disorders, past and present, the effect on family and community, and the wider social attitudes associated with mental illness.

This exhibition is part of the 'Promoting Mental Health through the Lessons of History' project, based at the University of St Andrews, and is a collaboration with University of Dundee Archive Services. The exhibition, which has been curated by PhD student Morag Allan Campbell, will be on display in the Foyer Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee, from March 23rd until June 9th 2018.

The 'Promoting Mental Health through the Lessons of History' project also includes the History of Psychiatry since 1500 series of podcasts, produced at the University of St Andrews by Prof Houston.

Image: Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, Westgreen, Dundee. Image courtesy of University of Dundee Archive Services.

Information published by Leisure and Culture Dundee.

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