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A Visit to a Turkish Lunatic Asylum

  • John H. Davidson (a1)

In the course of a tour, last autumn, through Greece, Turkey, and Asia Minor, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the Physician-in-chief of the Asylum of Constantinople and neighbouring provinces, and through his courtesy and kind attention I was not only enabled to visit the Timar-khané, or Dari-chifa, as it is sometimes called, but also to obtain some interesting information respecting the care and treatment of the insane by the Turks more than three centuries ago. Up to a recent date, the insane were taken care of in the Asylum of Suleimanié, situated near the mosque of that name, but in consequence of the building being unable to meet the demands made upon it, the patients were removed to the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, and lodged in the Asylum of Toptaschi in Scutari. The asylum, which is situated in the most Oriental and most beautiful suburb of Constantinople, on being approached, presents a rather dilapidated and neglected-looking appearance, and this aspect has been all the more heightened by the recent ravages of fire in the immediate vicinity; but the situation is most salubrious, as it catches the pleasant breezes from the Bosphorus and the sea of Marmora. The building is quadrangular, consisting of two storeys and surrounding a court, in the centre of which there is placed a fountain at which the patients perform their frequent daily ablutions before prostrating themselves in prayer at the calls of the muezzims from the minarets of the neighbouring mosques. The day and single rooms on the ground floor open into an arcade or colonnade which surrounds the entire building. The upper floor is used for dormitories which open into a corridor. In these the better class of patients sleep, and the more turbulent and excited sleep in the single rooms on the ground floor. The windows are protected by strong wire lattice instead of wooden lattice, as is the custom in all Turkish dwellings, and the flooring of both upper and under storeys is of tesselated pavement, which reminded me very much of that seen in the strada dell’ abondanza in Pompeii.

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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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A Visit to a Turkish Lunatic Asylum

  • John H. Davidson (a1)
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