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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

REVIEW: Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

Ten Days in a Mad-House
by Nellie Bly

Publisher:  A Nellie Bly Book (first published 1887)
Publish Date:  April 12, 2012
Pages: 96
Genres:  Memoir, Nonfiction, Journalism, Psychology

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is Bly's disturbing account of a mental asylum to which Bly was committed after feigning insanity. Including graphic depictions as to the treatment of mental patients and their unsanitary surroundings, Bly's controversial 1887 expose reveals the scandal and brutality of mental health in the nineteenth century.

My Review:

A couple of years ago I did a haunted walking tour in my neighborhood and the person in charge talked about this story.  I was immediately intrigued and when I got home, got online and ordered the book.  It proceeded to sit on my shelves and was forgotten for quite some time.  Then late last year, I read The Address by Fiona Barton and lo and behold, Nellie Bly was mentioned and remembered I had this story to read... and finally I did!

Nellie Bly went undercover in an insane asylum.... with no real knowledge of how she may get back out.  All to try and expose the horrible treatment of the women inside.  By this point, we've all seen how patients have been treated in movies and wonder if it's done that savagely as a means of "entertainment" in such series as American Horror Story or movies about the insane.  Sadly to say, it appears to only be a reflection of things that really happened back in the 1800s. 

Women were beaten, choked, given bread so stale and moldy that sometimes they would find spiders living inside them... ugh.  The abuse of power and the fact that Nellie so easily was committed to Bellevue and then shipped to Blackwell's Island for the Insane is astonishing.  At a mere 96 pages, this is one that will get to you.  Fortunately, as a result of her visit and the exposure (though some well hidden and hard for her to prove), the City of New York appropriated $1,000,000 per annum than ever for the care of the insane.  Ten days well spent in the mad-house for this to have occurred and I'm sure the patients thank her.


I only drop this from a 5 star review to a 4 because I'm picky and noticed quite a few errors in this print that sometimes caused a little bit of confusion in my read.

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