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Ten Days in a Mad-House

Ten Days in a Mad-House - Nellie Bly 3.5 Stars

Ten Days in a Mad-House is a book by newspaper reporter Nellie Bly. Nellie took the terrifying task of posing as Nellie Borwn in an undercover assisment to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. While on the assignment she feigned insanity at a women's boarding house and was involuntarily committed to the Women's Lunatic Alylum on Blackwell's Island.

Ten Days in a Mad House is a quick and insightful read into the way the mentally ill were treated or should I say mistreated in many cases during the latter part of the 19th century. What shocked me the most about this story was how quickly the doctors pronounced Nellie insane and how many sick and sane people ended up in Asylums for completely the wrong reasons. This account is told in a matter of fact style and is not dramatic in the telling but I suppose this is reflected in the fact that it was originally written as newpaper articles.

It was so upsetting to read the suffering of patients and while accounts of beatings and cruelty was difficult to read I found the patients suffering of cold and hunger and sanitary needs just heartbreaking as these people were what could only be described as tortured mentally and physically by the state and many of the employees of these institutions.

The public response to her writings was enormous and as a result and investigation was set up and a vast sum invested to improve conditions in the Asylums which was a great achievement for Nellie Bly and her time spent undercover did so much highlight the conditions of patients in Asylums.