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Twenty-eight Years' Lunacy Experience in Egypt (1895–1923)

  • John Warnock (a1)

There being no law on lunacy in Egypt, all procedure is by administrative orders. The Government has the right to take any steps necessary to secure public order. There is no Habeas Corpus Statute in Egypt. The Criminal Code prohibits illegal sequestration, but if the sequestration is done by the Government with a proper motive, it is apparently justifiable legally. The existing public hospitals for the insane belong to the Central Government; the local municipalities and commissions have none. In the local general hospitals, however, under the Public Health Ministry, there are special rooms constructed for the temporary accommodation of insane persons awaiting certification, or too ill to travel. The Lunacy Division of the Ministry of the Interior administers the hospitals for the insane and issues the necessary orders, which are, however, signed by the Minister; it also proposes the annual budget, and expends the sums granted according to the regulations of the Ministry of Finance. Grants for buildings are made to the Public Works Department, which plans the buildings on the instructions of the Lunacy Division, arranges the contracts, and supervises construction. The Division is almost as autonomous as a Government Department can be; and subject to the technical regulations of the various Ministries and the approval of the Minister, can decide its own questions. The legal Counsellor of the Ministry of the Interior advises it in legal questions, and defends it when attacked in Court. For the present the Director of the Division also acts as Director of the chief hospital at Abbâsîya, but the arrangement should be altered on the passage of a Lunacy Act.

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(1) Some years ago the State of Victoria, Australia, passed a law prohibiting private asylums; but the relatives of well-to-do insane refused to put their patients in State asylums, and removed them to other countries. The law was soon repealed.
(2) Not far from 2 per cent. of the total male population. This is surpassed by Switzerland, if per ceni, of total population (male and female) being Government servants.
(3) I have estimated the number of married Moslems alive in Egypt in 1920 to have amounted to 4,823,000. The ratio of divorces to married persons thus becomes 207 per 1,000 per annum, or more than one in every 50 married persons was divorced during the year, or one out of every 25 marriages became dissolved during the year; at which rate, if no other factors were at work, all Mohammedans would be divorced people in 25 years' time !
(4) The proportion in another hot and dusty country, Australia, is 7 blind persons per 10,000 of the population.
(5) More valuable indeed than the political services for which so many beer and whisky makers have received peerages !
(6) The present European population of Egypt being 181,500, the number of beds allowed would be about 7 per 10,000. In England 25 per 10,000 are provided.
(7) To obtain which I have contributed 6 per cent, of my salary, i.e., an average of L.E. 60 per annum.
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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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Twenty-eight Years' Lunacy Experience in Egypt (1895–1923)

  • John Warnock (a1)
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