Creating Bedlam: mental health exhibition in London



2016-10-03 09:42:22

Do you know where the world "bedlam" comes from?

It's a corruption of Bethlem, the name of London's first mental hospital. The hospital has run continuously for the past 600 years.

Anyway, now the capital's Wellcome Collection – always worth a visit – is running a special exhibition about the hospital and the treatment of mental illness through the ages. I went along on the weekend.

There were the obligatory horrific implements, including Pulvermacher’s Galvanic Combined Bands, as well as some illuminating artworks (Eugène Grasset's lithograph of a morphine addict being one of them).

It's all a little higgledy piggledy but I found it interesting and upsetting in equal measure. It also made me realise that although Britain's mental health services are widely condemned, we have come a long way from even 50 years ago, never mind 500 (although there is still huge room for improvement).

The exhibition runs until January next year and is free. 

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