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The Problem of Mental DeficiencyEugenics, Democracy, and Social Policy in Britain,
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Mathew Thomson

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206927.001.0001

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The Colony Solution

The Colony Solution

(p.110) 3 The Colony Solution
The Problem of Mental Deficiency

Mathew Thomson

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the role of psychiatrists in the emergence and expansion of mental asylums in Great Britain to handle the mental deficiency problem. Andrew Scull, a leading critic of the psychiatric profession, argues that the expansion of asylums was driven by the ambition and self-interest of the profession rather than the needs of the patients. He adds that when the failure of psychiatry to cure mental illness became apparent during the second half of the 1800s, psychiatrists presided over mass dumping grounds for the socially unwanted and chronically ill. This chapter suggests that the passage of the Mental Deficiency Act in 1913 could just be another stage of psychiatric imperialism.

Keywords:   psychiatry, mental asylums, Andrew Scull, mental illness, psychiatric imperialism

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