Well, I’m going to start at a place that you might not think is important, but I do, and as I’m writing this, you’ll have to put up with it or go elsewhere.
I’m going to start by looking at the word Dementia! You see, the word sets what I see as a significant problem when trying to address something that is the biggest killer in the World today!
The word Dementia isn’t good! It’s horrible and wrong! It’s used all the time to denote someone that’s a bit ga ga, and I’m not talking about the Lady!
It’s like the term Mental Health, used to isolate a particular group but really doesn’t seem to serve anyone. When I hear the word Mental Health, I think, Fruit Cake!
Mental Health and Dementia seem to be forever growing closer! The Loopy Loos, that’s the affectionate name I’ve given to the Mental Health Crew, don’t like us, Nut Jobs, that’s us of the Dementia Crew, muscling in on their turf, so to speak… sorry I seem to have slipped into a parallel world… I’m back now!
Dementia is just the same. When you hear Dementia, you think fruit cake, loopy, nut job, mental case!
The reason is simple, that’s what it means!
Dementia is a Latin word and stems from demens, ‘out of one’s sense, insane, raving, literally being out of one’s mind! You get the picture. As you will gather, being Latin, it goes back a few years. But It’s being used more and more as time has seen the medical profession and, in this case, Dementia understanding and treatment supposedly progress.
The French used the word Demence in the 1500’s referring to senile Dementia, the failing mind which occurs in old age!? I’m sure I’ve heard this before somewhere?
The best bit comes later, but as you will see a bit too close for comfort!
Now we see the rise of, The Mad House!
The first known asylum in the UK was at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London. It had been a hospital since 1247 but began to admit patients with mental health conditions around 1407. Not that the term mental health had been coined at that time. Patients were often considered as ‘mad’ as suggested by The Mad House Act of 1774. This was superseded in 1853 by a much friendlier term, The Lunatic Asylums Act. As the name of the legislation suggests, there was little concern for patient’s sensibilities, and typically patients were described as lunatics, imbeciles, insane, idiots or cretins. Not much seems to have changed!
The growth in the number of asylums was largely driven by the County Asylum / Lunacy Act. This act meant that Counties were legally obliged to provide asylum for people with mental deficiencies. Between the passing of the act in 1845 and 1890, when the next act was passed, over sixty asylums were built and opened. A further forty were subsequently built. Eventually, asylum numbers reached a peak in the 1950s, with over one hundred hospitals and approximately 150,000 patients in England and Wales.
The country had gone Mad! Counties, at first, saw this as another attempt by the overly rich, ‘Do Gooders’ to be seen to be helping the ever-growing number of mentally insane. However, the opportunity to make Money, lots and lots of Money, soon put a smile on those that held the purse strings of local government. Mad meant Money!
Next, I’ll tell you about the lovely time you could have had at The Hotel Mad House and how easily you could have found yourself being invited!
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