Story: Mental health services

Woman patient, Seacliff

Woman patient, Seacliff

Frederic Truby King, the medical superintendent at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum near Dunedin, introduced the practice of photographing patients for pasting in their clinical files. The idea caught on in other institutions. Some patients were well aware of how they were regarded by those outside the hospital. This 44-year-old married woman told King, 'I suppose you want a photograph of a madwoman. I'd better stick some straw in my hair and make faces.' (Quoted in Barbara Brookes, and Jane Thomson, eds, Unfortunate folk: essays on mental health treatment, 1863–1992. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2001, p. 157)

Using this item

Dunedin Regional Office, Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: DAHI/D264/19956/42:2397

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Warwick Brunton, 'Mental health services - Lunatic asylums, 1840s to 1900s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 April 2024)

Story by Warwick Brunton, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 5 May 2022