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Bedlam, Part the Second

Here we go, as promised. More on Bedlam, the world’s most infamous insane asylum. Courtesy of factinate, here are “42 Horrific Facts About Bedlam, History’s Most Notorious Mental Institution.” I wonder how many of them I already knew. Shall we see?

The original title, “the Priory of the New Order of Our Lady of Bethlehem”. Yep. I knew that. “Bedlam” is a Cockney bastardization of “Bethlem” or Bethlehem. The oldest insane asylum in the world, open for more than 600 years? Yep. Not originally a hospital? Yep. I didn’t know that the land upon which Bedlam was built was donated by Simon FitzMary. (Nice of him, but does it matter?) I knew that the word “bedlam” had become a synonym for chaos, but I didn’t know that it was being used in such a way as far back as the late 1500s. I always associated it with the Victorian era. I did know that Bedlam hasn’t always been housed in the same building, or buildings.

Those two statues, named “Melancholy” and “Raving Madness”, that once stood outside the entrance? Seems I recall reading that before. Same with the fact that Charles Darwin’s grandfather was once a doctor there. I’d never heard of the clairvoyant giant named Daniel before, though. As for the allegation that many poor people would pretend to be insane in order to get admitted to Bedlam, I’m not sure if I believe it. If it ever happened, it’s a safe bet that those fakers only tried it once! After getting discharged—if they lived to get discharged—I expect the last thing they would have ever wanted was to get put back in that hellhole!

TheCheezman • March 31, 2019


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