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|Title:||The Foundations of Madness: The role of the built environment in the mental institutions of New South Wales|
Department of Archaeology
New South Wales
|Abstract:||Institutionalisation has been a widespread and accepted response to insanity since the eighteenth century. These institutions were highly ideological, and the psychiatric theory that informed them was inextricably bound up with notions of the ‘ideal’ built environment that they should inhabit. However, both psychiatric theory and government policy and legislation were constantly changing and evolving, calling into question the claim that the built environment truly reflected these social elements. Understanding the role of the built environment in the function and dysfunction of mental institutions is therefore the central concern of this dissertation. Comparative analysis of four New South Wales mental institutions, those located at Gladesville, Parramatta, Callan Park and Kenmore, has been undertaken. The juxtaposition of the development of these institutions with the development of psychiatric theory and mental health legislation reveals that the social and material components of the institutions did not correspond, causing dissonance. A theoretical framework for understanding this dissonance has been drawn from the work of Fletcher (1995, 2002, 2004) and Gieryn (2002) and characterises the built environment as an actor without intent. The built environment is shown to constrain both the function of the mental institution and the behaviour of its inhabitants. Examination of the data presented by the four case studies shows several responses to dissonance and its constraints. While the way these processes manifest at the four institutions varied, they were nevertheless the same processes. The institutions were modified both materially and discursively in order to allow them to function, albeit not in the way envisaged by psychiatric theory. However, as that theory continued to evolve, the resulting dissonance could no longer be mitigated against, leading to the eventual abandonment of the institutions.|
|Department/Unit/Centre:||Department of Archaeology|
|Rights and Permissions:||The author retains copyright of this work|
|Type of Work:||Thesis, Honours|
|Appears in Collections:||Honours Theses - Department of Archaeology|
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