Ah, the neverending adventure of the historical writer. I dived down the rabbit hole recently during my research, and a dark one it was too. Mental illness is a theme that features strongly in my current WIP, and it's fair to say that treatment for mental illness for much of human history has been horrifying. Because my WIP takes place in the 1870s, I had to dive into the practices of the day.
There's a reason why "Bedlam" has become a universal term in the English language. Chains, starvation, and squalor are just the highlights. In the current draft I'm slogging through, one of my characters experiences the "water cure." Maybe it's just me and my aversion to water (yeah, sure), but how such a practice was supposed to "shake lunatics out of their insanity" is beyond me.
|A sketch of Bethlehem Royal Hospital, or Bedlam|
On a lighter note, a contest at LegendFire got me writing a bit of flash fiction, and a major plot point brought those little wooden nesting dolls to mind. The perfect metaphor! But what the heck are those things called? "Russian nesting dolls" is okay, but I wanted the actual name. Turns out they're Matryoshka. I love feel smarter than I was yesterday.