To assess the part that the 19th century asylums played in the development of the discipline of child psychiatry. Admissions to the Worcester County Asylum between the years 1854 and 1900 were screened to identify children aged 16 and under. An item sheet was used to record details of the admission.
One-hundred and ninety-five children were admitted. Risk of suicide and dangerousness were routinely recorded, family history rarely. It was not possible to make retrospective diagnoses. The death rate was high and contact with the family was minimal post admission.
Children were treated exactly like the adult patients, and therefore asylums did not contribute significantly to the development of the discipline of child psychiatry.
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