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Replica of a forearm restraint, England, 1850-1920

A violent or unruly patient was contained using a forearm restraint. The original of this forearm restraint was found in a chest at the Hanwell Asylum in Middlesex in 1930. Hanwell Asylum is now West London Mental Health NHS Trust at St Bernard’s Hospital. The restraint is thought to date from the late 1800s or early 1900s. The copy appears to be a highly accurate representation of the original because it shows marks of wear and tear. Hanwell Asylum’s superintendent was John Conolly (1794-1866). He famously renounced instruments of mechanical restraint in favour of ‘moral treatment’. Moral treatment was regular labour under constant surveillance. It is possible copies made of this and other articles found at the same time were created to illustrate to patients and staff the former treatment of inmates.

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A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.

Glossary: arm restraint

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