Bethlem Hospital: London's Infamous, Horrible, And Terrifying Insane Asylum

 Bethlem started with good intentions

The mental institutions and real-life madhouses of the past were essentially real-life horror movies. It should come as no shock that they were in bad shape, but they were, in fact, worse than we imagined. The Bethlem Hospital in London is a prime example of this. Originally established in 1247 as a way to help fund the Crusades, the hospital quickly fell into disrepair, setting back psychiatric treatment over the years. The inner workings of the hospital were so disorganized that the word "Bedlam" came from the name of this terrifying mental institution.

Founded by the Italian bishop Goffredo di Prefetti, the Hospital of Bethlehem was meant to serve as an alms collection place to keep the crusades going. The monks running the establishment often took in the sick and the needy, a decent act that defies the horrors that were committed after proving themselves incompetent in the hospital. It was built on top of the sewer system, and frequent backups made the water in the hospital unusable. By 1330, Bethlem was solely used as a home for the mentally ill and the poor, but it was another 300 years before all hell broke loose.

Rotational therapy was used to "cure" the patients.

After relocating to Moorfield, north of London in the 1600s, the hospital's mentally ill patients became a playground for blatant abuse of power. By 1675, the hospital was filled with schizophrenic and epileptic patients who were "treated" with rotational therapy, which involved tying them to a chair suspended from the ceiling and walking them around until they vomited. Once strapped to the chair, patients were often rotated more than 100 times a minute, leaving them mind-bending. As terrifying as it is, the practice provided research that helped modern vertigo patients. It's all about the silver lining, people.

Many doctors believed in bloodshed

At that time, bloodletting was considered a perfectly acceptable and common way to heal a patient of various mental and physical ailments. Doctors thought they could literally bleed a disease out of a patient, something that not only worked, but didn't work extra-doubled on mental illnesses. Many patients were forced to be treated with leeches and blisters, which sounds mostly unpleasant, but it often proves fatal. Allegedly, physicians of the time at least understood that everyone needed blood, so only those patients deemed strong enough to undergo treatment were allowed to "treat" it. .

  A family of doctors brought out the plight in Bedlam

As dire as the conditions at Bethlehem Hospital in the 1600s were, they became downright nightmares when James Monroe took over as chief physician in 1728. He started a lineage of prominent physicians who committed increasingly violent and tragic acts against patients, which gave the Marquis Day. Sade a run for your money. The Monroe dynasty lasted for 125 years, and throughout that time, patients were "treated" with beatings, starvation, and dunkings in ice baths. It is unclear whether the Monroe family really thought they were helping their patients or if they wanted to use their power as an excuse to fulfill their worst fantasies.

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