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Four Departmental Asylums in the North-West of France

  • J. Wilkie Burman (a1)

In the course of a walking tour, during last summer, I visited, en route, four of the Departmental Lunatic Asylums in the North-West of France, principally with a view to see how they would stand comparison with our own Provincial or County Asylums. Such a comparison, however, could scarcely, I find, be made on a fair basis; for though, undoubtedly, the great majority of the patients in the French Departmental Asylums are paupers, and maintained at the expense of the several Departments, yet, in all, there are associated with these paupers large numbers of pensionnaires, who are maintained by theirfriends and divided into four or five classes, and treated according to their rate of payment. It is obvious, moreover, that the better general and special arrangements, due to and supported by the higher rates of payment of the pensionnaires, would prevent such associated asylums as these from being fairly compared, as to their tout ensemble, with our own County Asylums—in which, as a rule, the patients are all paupers, and chargeable to the different unions, and in which the arrangements are for paupers only, and so constituted as to keep the maintenance rate as low as is compatible with efficiency. Seeing, then, that it was impossible to institute any fair general comparison between the French Departmental Asylums, which I lately visited, and our own County Asylums, I determined, whilst not failing to pay all due regard to the arrangements for, and treatment of, the pensionnaires, to pay more particular attention to the condition and treatment of the pauper patients in the Asylums visited, and to take my notes accordingly. These rough notes, instead of consigning them to the waste paper basket, as has been the fate of former notes of visits made by me to Continental Asylums, I have, this time, determined to offer to my professional brethren, in the hope that they may afford, perhaps, some few crumbs of information and of interest. It will be necessary for me, however, before going further, to state—that, as the principal object of my tour was walking and not mad-house hunting, I did not follow out any predetermined plan as to which particular asylums I should visit. Indeed, it was not until I had well started on my tour that I conceived the laudable idea of endeavouring to combine a little instruction with my amusement, and the result was that I merely visited those asylums which were in close proximity to the route which I had arranged for myself previous to starting. The asylums to which I paid these hap-hazard visits, then, were the following:—1st, “L'Asile de Lehon,” Dinan; 2nd, “L'Asile St. Athanase,” Quimper; 3rd, “L'Asile St. Méen,” Rennes; and 4, “L'Asile de Pontorson,” situated in the small town of that name; and I shall record my notes of them, seriatim, in the order in which they were visited.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Four Departmental Asylums in the North-West of France

  • J. Wilkie Burman (a1)
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