Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/652

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634
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SCHOOLS FOR THE INSANE.
By CHARLES W. PILGRIM, M. D.

THE teaching of the insane is by no means a new idea. Early in the history of the Utica Asylum Dr. Brigham made the experiment of having winter classes, and wrote in his annual report for 1844 of the great advantages resulting therefrom. These classes, however, were not long continued, and, if I mistake not, a like history was enacted in the Northampton Lunatic Asylum, where Dr. Earle, our oldest American alienist, instituted a similar work at about the same time. Dr. Kirkbride, another pioneer in American asylums, advocated the education of the insane; but, instead of having organized schools, he had what were known as "companions," who visited the patients in different wards and gave them instruction by reading and conversation. I know, however, of no single attempt in this direction in any of the American asylums which was at all prolonged, and, with one exception, the result was the same with the experiments which were made from time to time in various parts of Great Britain and the Continent. The exception was the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum in Dublin, where Dr. Lalor's zeal and energy elaborated the idea and made of it such a success that his asylum became known on account of its school to alienists in the most distant parts of the world. In 1885, when the school had been in successful operation for about thirty years, I had the pleasure of spending three days with the venerable old man, who is justly called the "father of the school system." He has since laid down the burden of life, but the system which he inaugurated still lives, and is carried on under the direction of his successor.

At the time of my visit there was a daily average of about four hundred and fifty men, and, as the two departments of the asylum are conducted practically in the same manner, I shall confine my-self to a description of the male division and its school. About forty of the four hundred and fifty men were in the hospital ward and took no part in the school exercises. Of the remainder, eighty-five were engaged during the day in the garden and various industrial occupations, but about seventy of them attended school on three evenings in the week for an hour after supper. A little more than a hundred were occupied solely in masonry, farm-work, tailoring, basket-making, shoemaking, etc., and more than two hundred were occupied during the greater part of the day with the school exercises. It will thus be observed that nearly every patient in the asylum, excepting those in the hospital de-