Today, I will be sharing my review of Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly with you all.
In 1887, Nellie Bly accepted an assignment from publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and went undercover at the lunatic asylum on Blackwell Island, America’s first municipal mental hospital. Calling herself “Nellie Brown,” she was able to convince policemen, a judge, and a series of doctors of her madness with a few well-practiced facial expressions of derangement.
At the institution, Bly discovered the stuff of nightmares. Mentally ill patients were fed rotten, inedible food; violently abused by a brutal, uncaring staff; and misdiagnosed, mistreated, or generally ignored by the doctors and so-called mental health experts entrusted with their care. To her horror, Bly encountered sane patients who had been committed on the barest of pretenses and came to the shocking realization that, while the Blackwell Island asylum was remarkably easy to get into, it was nearly impossible to leave.
From the moment I first heard about this, I knew I had to read it, and then the lovely Dana (@danabartelt) bought me a copy for my birthday from my Amazon wishlist. I actually started reading this quite a few months ago, but then blog tours and ARCs got in the way. So when I got the chance recently to finish it off, I took full advantage.
Nellie Bly was an incredibly brave women. She potentially risked her life by putting herself in the situation she did, with no guarantee that she would be able to get out once she was in the asylum. She did all of this to try and make a difference, for the good of other people, who were all complete strangers to her. That takes a lot of strength, and courage, and I truly admire her.
I can’t believe how easy it was for Nellie to get in to the asylum. There were so few questions, and none of them would even prove that you’re insane. It seems as though back then, they threw absolutely anyone in to the asylum, wether they were sane or not.
The story of what Nellie witnessed once she arrived at the asylum is horrifying. The fact that people were actually treated this way, and that the staff got away with it for so long is absolutely disgusting. These poor innocent people were taken advantage of, and abused, both mentally and physically, by the people who were supposed to be taking care of them. It’s just so awful!
This book is such an interesting read, and definitely an eye opener. I am so glad that after the release of Nellie’s story, action was taken, and that these issues were addressed. I can’t even begin to imagine what these people must have gone through.
I give Ten Days in a Mad-House a 4 star rating!
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