This Thursday, 6 November, at 6pm Dr Damien Brennan of Trinity College Dublin will hold a public lecture at DIT’s new Grangegorman campus.
Dr Brennan will speak on ‘Institutions Behind the Walls: Grangegorman, from Asylum to Academy’.
During the 1950s, the level of mental hospital usage in Ireland was the highest internationally, with a rate of 710 beds per 100,000. These institutions provided ‘care’ to those categorised as ‘insane’, ‘mentally ill’, or ‘having mental problems’, as it is now described. However, they also developed into locations of substantive social and economic importance to the communities in which they were situated.
This paper will demonstrate that the spectacular growth of Irish mental hospitals during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had little to do with the mental state of the individuals who were institutionalised. As such there was no epidemic of ‘mental illness’ in Ireland. Rather, this institutional confinement occurred in response to social forces (such as legislation, systems of admission and discharge, diagnostic criteria, social deprivation and family dynamics), along with the actions of the individuals, families and professional groups who carried out the act of committal.