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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970On-line version ISSN 1678-4758

Abstract

VILLASANTE, Olga. Monitoring the correspondence of the mentally ill in Spanish psychiatric institutions: from care to censorship, 1852-1987. Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos [online]. 2018, vol.25, n.3, pp.763-778. ISSN 0104-5970.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/s0104-59702018000400009.

This article examines the legislation allowing confiscation of the correspondence of the mentally ill in psychiatric hospitals. Arguing a duty of care, patients’ letters were read by physicians and administrators. A study was performed of the regulations governing this practice in different Spanish institutions from the nineteenth century on; the measure was implemented by staff members under orders from their superiors. This arbitrary decision meant that a great deal of correspondence remains in the archives of psychiatric establishments in different locations; nowadays, these letters can be used as valuable clinical documents that help us to understand daily life in those institutions and, obviously, mental health patients’ subjective experience of their confinement.

Keywords : psychiatric care; correspondence; mentally ill; Spain; written culture.

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