Bedlam: The History of Bethlem Hospital

Bedlam: The History of Bethlem Hospital

2010, History  -   25 Comments
Ratings: 7.45/10 from 74 users.

Bedlam: The History of Bethlem HospitalThe Bethlem Royal Hospital in London became infamous in the 1600's in regards to the inhumane and cruel treatment of its patients as revealed by psychiatric historians.

Bedlam: The History of Bethlem Hospital reveals why Bedlam came to stand for the very idea of madness itself.

It was satirized for centuries as both a human zoo and a university of madness and for 100 years was one of London's leading tourist attractions, as Madame Tussauds is today.

Britain's leading psychiatric historians discuss Bedlam and its inhabitants as we reveal the incredible history of one of U.K's most notorious institutions.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Chris

    Why oh why do documentarians think they need loud music to compete with the speakers and all but drown them out? Cut the music!

  2. Loretta Chardin

    Wow! That's the same king (GeorgeIII) that the American colonies were rebelling against. It's interesting that the Quakers tried a more humane approach in York; they were also instrumental in designing the "Penitentiary," modeled on monasteries, as a reform measure to barbaric punishments for crime. Incidentally, the Quakers are now opposing prison as a way of dealing with crime!!

  3. Elissa Sangi

    There is an excellent movie on The Madness of King George with Michael Caine as the physican. this documentary fails to inform, King George peed blue, indicitive of a disease. Yes, the physician imparted discipline within the mind /actions of King George but the real cure was when he stopped peeing blue. The medical world now knows what this condition is. In King Georges' case, it subsided by itself and unfortunetly this 'documentary' makes no mention of this malady.

  4. Watcher

    Meh, the documentary doesn't describe how "mental illness" was used by governments to silence people. In the case of the King, for instance, it's more probable that records describe him becoming mad in order to punish and threaten him for not doing as he was told by those powerful around him, or by those who simply wished him to disappear, wished to discredit him. It continues to use the language of "treatment" and so on, even when it was apparent that "treatments" like the spinning chair were simply punishments and not an attempt to cure suppose madness. This shows a significant bias on the part of producers to legitimate the psychiatric profession, rather than to question it through the lens of history. Lastly, the documentary does not address the fact that so-called "madness" could have been the result of drugging (i.e, drugging the King's and other patient's food) as still occurs today, or that "treatments" could have included drugs that actually make people psychotic as still occurs to present day in psychiatric "treatments." All in all, the documentary did not do enough to present a thoughtful account of the abuses committed in these "madness" institutions, or possible political, social, economic and simply power related explanations for the very labeling of madness itself. I would rate this a one or two out of five.

  5. Michael Guerrieri

    This must have been inspired by saw

  6. Be Hood

    I wasn't impressed. It was too airy and whimsical. I was hoping for something gritty, meaty, thick. Interesting, yes, but next time, leave out the ridiculous/non-funny reenactments.

  7. Angela Velazquez

    Very interesting. definitely worth watching if you have a mental illness or know someone who does. Try to imagine being locked in there, it must have been terrifying to be a spectacle and to be experimented on. I am so glad mental health systems have gotten much better since those times and have a somewhat real understanding, or at least try to. I am glad i live now rather than then, or else i would be in that situation.

    1. therapy

      modern "mental health systems" are tantamount to the cruel 19th century lunatic asylums. human behavior never changes. the predators always diagnose their victims before curing them.

  8. Pippa Tea

    This was really good!

  9. scorpiosy

    A very interesting documentary

  10. Scott Thagard

    Very informative!

  11. harry nutzack

    interesting doc to say the least.. a bit light-hearted, yet informative. the airloom is remarkable, i think, in that its the forerunner of the modern "microwave mind control" mania, and for the level of detail to the extreme. it would also appear 18th century brits really knew how to take a day off... a choice of visiting an asylum on tour, or attending a harlot whipping beats my local choices of beach or casino hands down....

  12. Tony148

    I loved it ! I can actually say that I'm in Bedlam now and it has true meaning GREAT !!!

  13. Erational

    This was a really good documentary!

  14. John Christopher McDonald

    This was a fantastic documentary! I love these gems that come up I know I would have never seen if not for this site.

    I have no idea why the government had such a strong interest in keeping Mathews locked up over his airloom story. Seems like anyone meddling in politics would be thrown away regardless of the legitimacy of their work.

  15. bygdaddiesstee

    I really liked It! It was informative and entertaining. Bedlem has a new meaning and I a new perspective on the the ever thining line between sane and insane, and who determins either. Most intriging was the artist renderings

  16. Xercès Des Stèles

    oh yeh he was mad because he thought a sinister machine operated by french agents was trying to control the gov... or maby the winners get to write History...

  17. knowledgeizpower

    Interesting documentary. The using of leaches to drain the madness from patients yeah this was fascinating...Peace

  18. Guest

    Not bad but I'd have liked a bit more about the Mad Doctors and their cures, looks like shock treatment has always been a favourite.

  19. Truthseeker420

    It's a good thing it's 2011 or else I'd most likely be chained to a wall too.

    1. earthbound

      Truthseeker420 I would most likely be in a forest somewhere, don;t no though.

  20. KsDevil

    Different time, different culture. Applyng modern cultural norms do not do history justice. However, arrogance and ignornace still abound concerning those outside the status quo. And it is still wondered, who truely is sane.

    1. Earthwinger

      LOL! I don't know where you hail from, but round my way, believing that malicious foreign agents may be plotting to project behaviour modification beams into your head, using strange new technologies, is hardly a cultural norm. Unless of course we're talking about the mainstream media and television, and that really is scary stuff! ;)

      I was simply commenting on the striking resemblance between Matthew's "air loom" theories, and some of the more sinister theories regarding HAARP's theoretical potential for behaviour modification....

      ....Or maybe they really *are* cultural norms, and I'm woefully out of touch these days! :)

      Joking aside though, all I was hinting at, albeit it in a rather oblique manner, is the nature of extreme paranoia, and how little some of the narratives seem to have changed. Which I find intriguing, given that we live in such a different world. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, an' all that jazz. :)

  21. Earthwinger

    I'm guessing that if James Tilly Matthews were alive today, he'd have something to say about HAARP.

    Fascinating doc. :)

  22. Mini MB

    Good documentary :)