‘Managing madness’
: asylums in Ulster, 1845-1914

  • Seaneen Scullion

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


My PhD thesis is primarily based on the examination of the Belfast, Omagh and Londonderry district lunatic asylums in Ulster during the period 1845 to 1914. This project specifically focuses on the role and function of mental health asylums within society as it examines how and why patients were admitted, treated and discharged from these three Ulster asylums on the grounds of insanity and mental health. Through an investigation of the asylums in Ulster it aims to enlighten us on the attitudes of mental illness during this period of time and also the changing role of asylums in Ulster society. It not only explores the relationship between gender and mental health but also class, religion and medicine as a means of determining how these factors influenced patient experience, the operation of the asylums, and also how this changed over time. It also examines the socio-economic profile of the patients in order determine if there were any similarities or differences in the cohort of patients admitted into these ulster asylums. The unique context of Ulster is also examined in order to determine whether the political, social, religious and cultural context of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ulster impacted on how these district asylums operated and if it affected the management of the patients within the asylums. This project also has a comparative aspect as it aims to highlight the similarities and differences in the experience of ‘managing madness’ in the Ulster asylums compared to those elsewhere in Ireland and Britain.
Date of AwardOct 2023
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.
SupervisorLeanne McCormick (Supervisor) & Andrew Sneddon (Supervisor)


  • Insanity
  • Admissions
  • Patients
  • Moral
  • Treatment
  • Discharge
  • Medicine
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Work
  • Famine

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