Disabled People In The Victorian Era

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Disabled People in the Victorian Era Societies have a strong tendency to group individuals into different “categories” based on their personal characteristics, thus determining several important aspects of their lives. When regarding the disabled people of nineteenth century Europe, this was absolutely true. Living as a disabled person in nineteenth century Europe brought on many difficult roadblocks, but also occasionally produced unique benefits. As a result of the different degrees and types of disabilities a person may have, those with them were each subject to distinctive factors, such as life in asylums or workhouses. Furthermore, as time progressed, they saw a change in the ways in which they were perceived and treated with the numerous…show more content…
At this time, the only place where a majority of the handicapped lived at home was Gheel, Belgium in which most families cared for their deformed relatives (Shafer). Many of the same characteristics of the ancient times can also be seen transitioning into the Victorian Era. It is specifically noted that the 18th century in particular encouraged disabled people’s exclusion in society with events such as freak shows, where they became the subjects of public humiliation for entertainment purposes. Although this may be true, the bright side became very apparent as people began to pity their pathetic lives (Hix). In 1848, a religious advice column was printed containing the following: “Some boys laugh at the poor cripples when they see them in the street. Sometimes we meet a man with only one eye, or one arm, or one leg, or who has a humpback. How ought we feel when we see them? We ought to pity them.” (Jarrett) From the beginning of the 19th century stems an attitude that suggests that defective people must be normalized through medical intervention (Hix). Though this remained a relatively minor issue throughout the era (Hulonce), several important reforms were made, setting this idea in…show more content…
Asylums were arguably the most widespread and controversial establishment for disabled people. Provided that there was an extreme lack of knowledge on disabilities in general, asylums each had their own methods of diagnosing and types of treatments. These treatments ranged from kind attention to horrible mistreatment (Victorian Era Asylums). As investigations of asylums increased, reports more commonly included details describing patients receiving cruel treatment and sometimes even starvation (Victorian Era Asylum and Workhouses). Additionally, they shed light on their extreme overcrowding, which led to many other problems (Hulonce). These issues included: patients being caged or tied up at all times, receiving little to very minimal old and worn clothes, and often being forced to sleep on the floor (Victorian Era Asylums). One intercepted letter from an asylum patient read: “I feel I cannot stand this place a minute longer and soon I shall lose the brains I had...I feel I shall go on degenerating in this environment into an animal.” Conversely, infrequent instances of patients enjoying asylum life were recorded (Letters). The was due to the fact that select asylums believed that giving patients a happy, nutritious life would reap the most benefits (Hulonce). Similarly were the workhouses established
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