THE STORY OF A MENTAL HOSPITAL: FULBOURN, 1858-1983
by David H. Clark
Current policies about 'care in the community' of the mentally ill, along with lurid accounts of abuses, have led to the impression that the old, custodial mental hospitals outside big cities were all dreadful 'bins' where human dignity was sacrificed to staff routines. The author was in charge of a traditional institution near Cambridge for three decades, during which it became internationally renowned for enlightened practices and the nurturing of patients' rights and welfare. He tells the history of the hospital from its founding in the nineteenth century to a period of traditional custodialism, during which it suffered from lack of funds, physical neglect and low morale. He then tells of a number of exciting changes: unlocking the wards, social therapy, administrative therapy, therapeutic communities, and the rehabilitation programmes of the 1970s. It is a moving story, part autobiography, part narrative history, and full of touching incidents - coping with internal wrangles, inertia and relations with the community and reflecting the best tradition of the caring professions. It can be argued that the work being done in some institutions of this kind compares favourably with many current policies for the care of the mentally ill.
'Little has been written by insiders about those great public mental hospitals which, until recently, held in Britain over 100,000 patients. Hence everyone interested in recent psychiatry and the role played in it by the psychiatric hospital will be delighted that David Clark has recorded his personal memories of a life-time spent in running a large, public psychiatric institution Trained at the Maudsley Hospital, Clark joined Fulbourn Hospital, on the outskirts of Cambridge, back in the 1950s; he stayed on and transformed the institution...
'In a book doubling as a history of the hospital and an autobiography Clark discusses the changes he was able to effect and his thoughts about the present crisis in psychiatric care. A rich irony reveals itself: our age, which has seen the agitation for the closing of traditional asylums come to fruition, has also been the time when many of them have been, at long last, most therapeutically innovative and successful.
'Frank, modest and written with a wry sense of humour, David Clark's account of a career in Fulbourn is a rare document, fascinating to read and invaluable as historical evidence. It is a pleasure to see it in print.'
- from the foreword by Roy Porter, Professor of the Social History of Medicine, Wellcome Institute, London, author of Mind-Forg'd Manacles, editor of The Faber Book of Madness and Co-editor of Discovering the History of Madness
David H. Clark studied Medicine at King's College, Cambridge and Edinburgh University, trained in Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, was appointed Medical Superintendent of Fulbourn Hospital in 1953 and from 1971 until 1983 was Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at the hospital. He is the author of Administrative Therapy (Tavistock, 1964), Social Therapy in Psychiatry (Penguin, 1974; 2nd ed., Churchill Livingstone, 1982) and Descent into Conflict 1945: A Doctor's War (Book Guild, 1995).
1. How it Began 1
ISBN 1 899209 03 4 Pp. xiv+248 Price £19.95 (British pounds sterling) plus £1.50 postage & packing Process Press, 26 Freegrove Rd., London N7 9RQ
The Human Nature Review © Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM