BBC Mental A History of the Madhouse Full Documentary - Summary and Reaction

by - February 25, 2021

BC Mental A History of the Madhouse Full Documentary by JLO Productions is a story of how High Royds Hospital works during the time when it was still open. High Royds is a lonely psychiatric hospital in the village of Menston, Bradfors, West Yorkshire, England. The hospital is enormous and one day is not enough to be able to see the whole place. However, this place is far from being a hospital because this place is like a prison to them. Patients are treated like a prisoner because the cells or doors are only open if they need to come out. The place is being dominated with securities wherein they are inmates rather than being patients. Also, half of the patients in High Royds have nothing wrong with them mentally. They are locked out in the hospital for no psychiatric reason or nothing to do directly with their mental state because they either were abandoned or no support from their family, relatives, and community. 

During its time, there is already an advancement in medicine however there is only a limited therapy form mental illness, wherein some of them are still in its experiment stage. Some of the therapy introduced before is the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to ease the depression of the patients. Some said that this therapy is the hope for improvement however this therapy is very cruel for the patients because before this is being given without anesthesia and the side effects are very terrible since it induces seizures and makes the patient violently jerk. Insulin shock therapy is also introduced before to psychotic patients, wherein patients will repeatedly receive an injection of a large amount of insulin in order to produce some relief. The patient usually scream and feel queer because the burned blood sugar will in turn make the patient fall into coma. However, it was proven that this is a harmful medical failure. Lobotomy was also performed before wherein they will open up holes on the side of the skull in order to remove the sections of the brain. Even if they have a little knowledge of how the brain works, they said that this treatment will permanently treat the patient with some serious mental illness. However, it was found out that there is no benefit can get with this procedure and patients suffer from personality change because of this treatment that’s why this treatment is eventually phased out. Thump therapy which is a very tough approach is also being practiced in the asylum wherein patients are being treated badly. Patients received abusive and brutal treatments from the charge nurses before like a smacking on the back of the head, cold water splashing on their face, shouting, and dragging across the room. 

In a new light, there is a new hope that came from laboratories of scientists because they started working on a new generation of drugs. Drugs such as chlorpromazine and lithium were developed. Chlorpromazine is used to calm patients with psychotic disorder and lithium is used for patients with manic depressive and this drug is prominently and widely used drugs as of today. What is good about this revolution, is that these drugs are known to treat specific disorders that is why there was a hope for the future of patients with mental disorders. Also, a new program of activity was introduced such as occupational therapy and dancing which gave patients a new perception that they can still do something even if they have a mental disorder. Fundamental reforms such as open door policy and the asylum being decorated makes the hospital more homely for the patient. Changes like these improve the lives of the patient because these approaches bring hope for the patients.

Revolutions cause the closing of the High Royds. Freedom was given to the patient because they now have the right to say on their own future. A new spirit was enveloped by the patients because they were able to begin to see the reality outside the institution. Because the freedom that they were able to receive after being locked out for the long time in the hospital, they were also able to gain self-confidence that was stolen from them.

At the beginning of the video, I felt sad when I heard that the reason why most of the patients are in the High Royds is because they were abandoned by their family and not because they have a mental illness. It was like an escape of responsibilities of the families because they cannot accept them anymore that is why they just choose to admit their relatives in the institution even if they know that their family member does not have any problem in their mental health. It is just so upsetting that because of the selfish act of their family, they suffered big time inside the institution. It is so depressing to hear that most of the patients who used to be admitted in the High Royds experienced an abusive and brutal treatment that they did not deserve. They received therapies in a harsh way that are not known to be effective during their time, that instead to improve their life, the hospital itself is the reason why they are not making any progress on their mental health. I know that hospitals before are not that yet advanced when it comes to medicine and treatment, but I think the healthcare practitioner should have at least showed some care to the patients before because even if they have mental illness they are still humans who deserve to be treated nicely and humanely. They should not have treated them as guinea pigs, performing procedures even if they don’t know the effectiveness of it. It is painful hearing stories of the patients before that they will wake up after receiving a procedure feeling so confused, disoriented, and weak. That sometimes they wonder why they received such treatments when in fact these treatments might have caused more brain damage to them. They said that it is so terrifying to be admitted in the High Royds that is why I am happy to learn that finally asylums have stopped operating because their treatment ways will finally stop and no patients will be able to experience it again in the future. 

What I would have recommended after watching this documentary is to treat patients with mental illness nicely. They are humans too with special needs that is they shouldn’t be treated with injustice. People who are suffering with mental disorders should be able to receive a proper treatment, in order to do that, healthcare practitioners should be always with the patients guiding them with care to the specific treatment that they are going to receive. The benefits of the treatment that they are going to receive should outweigh the risks in order to make sure that they are receiving the best treatment that is possible to them. They should also receive activity programs because these interventions are therapeutic enough to help them improve their psychological well-being. Coping support is also what they need, so the healthcare professionals should make sure that they receive a proper amount of it so they wouldn’t feel that they are outcast in this world. We should break the stigma that people with mental illness are mad people that do not have any future at all. We should not let the people who are suffering with mental illness feel that they are different from the rest of the people because it will add more to their thinking and might probably affect their life more in a negative way. We should accept them and be aware and educated with mental illness so that we could help them in our own little way.

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