Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly Chrissie and Beckie
19th and 20th century asylums • Mental illness was a hidden disease which many people didn’t acknowledge until it became unmanageably bad. If the patient was rich then they would go to sanitarium to receive treatment but tell people they were going because they were bored and wanted rest. • There were few treatments available for mental illnesses. One called shock therapy, involved the use of drugs or electricity to treat severe mental disorders by inducing coma or convulsions. The therapeutic benefit of the drug shock therapies seemed to be greatest with schizophrenics. • Mental illness was seen as a curse and only 23% of people who suffered from these illnesses voluntarily entered care homes as little treatment was available and it was seen as embarrassing. • Conditions in state mental institutions deteriorated as a result of depression-era financial hardships and the resource and personnel demands of the war. Decaying physicial plants and extreme overcrowding were common. • Mental Health Act 1946 was introduced. It provided funding for research into causes, prevention and treatment of mental illness. It also led to establishment in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health and provided for Federal investigation of mental hospitals. Investigators found apathy, neglect, and custodial care.
Stunt Journalism • Stunt Journalism involves the writer putting themselves covertly into the situation/event so they can write a truthful expose on this. • Also known as immersion journalism. • An advantage is that this allows the writer to go internally into an external event and break away from the limited objectivity of traditional journalism. • However, it would be difficult to remain completely unbias if you have experienced the situation personally and critics often say that as they are pretending to fit in, it isn’t a truly accurate account.
Recasting Task • Imagine you are from a mental health charity giving a speech to persuade the government to put more funding into mental asylums in order to improve the conditions. Use the extract from: ‘Miss Scott was called to the door then…’ (page 4) to ‘I was shaking with more than fear.’ (page 6) • You should adapt the source material using your own words as far as possible. You spoken text should be approximately 300-400 words in length. • In your adaptation you should: • Use language appropriately to address purpose and audience • Write accurately and coherently, applying relevant ideas and concepts.
The piece • Sounds almost prose like. • Plain sounds created through descriptive nature rather than expressive one. • Empathy shown through repetition of ‘unfortunates’ as she understands the experience now but still calls then ‘creature’ showing she is not completely comfortable. • Fairly formal language.