86 Reasons You Could Have Been Committed To An Asylum In 1889

Earlier this week, Andrew wrote a great piece with photos of the nightmarish devices used to restrain and torment the mentally ill in ages past. When I shared his article, one of my friends directed me to this leaflet from the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia that lists 86 of the things that could get a person committed and/or admitted to an asylum.

As a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression, I find these topics deeply interesting. Men could have their wives committed for any number of stupid reasons. Had I had a mean hubby and been alive back then, I’d definitely have been locked up! Not just for depression but for my bad behavior and being a “novel reader,” too. (snicker)

Here are the 86 things that could have gotten you admitted or committed:

Messy Nessy Chic

The way the mentally ill were treated is abominable. Our readers pointed out in response to Andrew’s article that it’s not much better today. That’s not true, though. Not having access to treatment isn’t the same thing as being legally and systematically tortured or held against one will. Nor is it the same thing as one’s husband having the ability to completely lock you away and have you committed for life for something like “time of life” or horniness.

From the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum website:

Formerly known as the Weston State Hospital, this West Virginia facility served as a sanctuary for the mentally ill in the mid-1800 s.

Sanctuary. Rightttttt.

Take a tour of this horrible place via the video below.

h/t Messy Nessy Chic via Lost at E Minor


Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and AmReading.com. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.