The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 52, Issue 2

Article 4
Insanity and Society in 1870s Barbados

Leonard Smith


Abstract

This article considers manifestations of mental disorder during a particularly troubled period in Barbadian history, utilizing case material from the former lunatic asylum. The inadequate, overcrowded institution, which operated between 1846 and 1893, provided barely minimum standards of care and treatment to its numerous patients, who originated from across the island’s racial and social spectrum. The patient case histories illustrate the diverse circumstances that led individuals to be committed to the asylum. They also provide cameo insights regarding aspects of Barbadian society, based on glimpses into ordinary people’s experiences of economic conditions, material deprivation, class elationships and social change.