A study of the Fife and Kinross District Asylum 1866-1899
This thesis aims to illuminate the hitherto neglected area of the Scottish Victorian Pauper Asylum. It provides a detailed study of one specific institution, The Fife and Kinross District Asylum between the years 1866 and 1899. A wealth of archival material is available for this period, including admission registers, consecutive casebooks, post mortem and annual reports. This has afforded a unique insight into asylum life, and the information obtained has enabled the thesis to be divided into two main sections. The first aims to provide an account of the establishment of the Fife Asylum within its historical context, with particular reference to its doctors and attendants. The second part examines the patient population and focuses on a casenote study of 337 male patients admitted between 1874 and 1899. Sociodemographic characteristics, psychopathology, Nineteenth Century diagnoses, length of stay and outcome are all examined for this population. An attempt has also been made to re-diagnose the psychopathology identified in terms of the Research Diagnostic Criteria of Spitzer et al (1978). The findings indicate that the Fife Asylum differed from its English counterparts in several important respects. Although inpatient numbers rose as the century progressed there was no evidence of overcrowding with chronic patients, or an excess of 'organic' pathology, as was seen in English Asylums. These and other distinguishing features are examined critically and discussed in relation to the innovative styles of patient management pioneered at the Fife Asylum in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.