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Replica of a 19th-century restraint harness, England, 1930-1940

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The original of this leather restraint harness was found in a chest at the Hanwell Asylum in Middlesex in 1930. Such garments restricted the movements of mentally ill patients who were considered violent. They were universally used until the end of the 1700s. More humane methods of management were introduced throughout the 1800s. The asylum’s superintendent was John Connolly (1794-1866). He famously renounced instruments of mechanical restraint in favour of ‘moral treatment‘. Moral treatment was regular labour under constant surveillance. Copies made of this and other articles found at the same time were possibly created to illustrate the former treatment of inmates to patients and staff.

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Glossary: psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospital specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, usually for relatively long-term patients.

Glossary: asylum

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: restraint harness

No description.