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Objections to the Boarding-out System


The boarding-out of insane persons has so long been an approved and integral part of the Scottish system of Lunacy Administration, it has been the subject of so many reports and critical examinations, that we have no intention of entering upon a disquisition as to the obvious dangers, disadvantages, and discomforts it may entail. Every good Scot accepts it as, on the whole, an eminently satisfactory solution of difficulties with which a nation is brought face to face in dealing with the mass of chronic lunacy, which as yet shows no decrease. It is a necessary part of the education of those who undertake active responsibility in this department of social work to visit, or, at least, to study the Gheel system, which is the prototype of all similar projects. In Scotland it is generally believed that the plan, so ably recommended by Sir Arthur Mitchell in his work on the Insane in Private Dwellings (1864), and since then so strenuously upheld year by year in the Reports of the Lunacy Board, has proved a real benefit to the insane and to the public. It is no part of that ideal to congregate the insane in particular localities, but rather to dilute the lunacy in so far as possible, just as we dilute excitement in asylum practice. Circumstances, however, have caused some neglect of this guiding principle, which it is easy to account for, and already a remedy has been applied. The decay of handloom weaving, for instance, rendered it acceptable to the numerous cottagers in Fife to supplement their diminishing incomes by receiving such cases, and, naturally, the success of neighbours in earning a welcome addition to scanty means is contagious. The Parish Council of Collessie (a rural district near Lady-bank) lately met to consider this question, and their finding was that “certified lunatics in the usual way be permitted in the parish as at present.” One of the ten members present entered his dissent. There seems to have been at that meeting a general consensus of opinion that the boarded-out patients were comfortable, contented, and kindly cared for. Besides, the Inspector of Poor reported that the yearly payments made on their behalf amount to £700 or £800 a year.

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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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Objections to the Boarding-out System

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