AARON WUNSCH Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and Department of Landscape Architecture, The University of Pennsylvania Figure 1. The Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, designed by architect Isaac Holden and built 18351841 near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Drawn by W. Mason and engraved by W.E. Tucker (Philadelphia: Butler & Long, pr., ca. 1860). (Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons. License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Once one gets past the perversity of Edgar Allan Poe's "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" (1844), it is hard not to be impressed by his skills of observation. Ostensibly set in southern France, the story was written in Philadelphia and the method it purports to describe (or rather the one Tarr and Fether claim to have improved upon) bears an uncanny resemblance to the "moral treatment" employed in the city's famed mental hospitals. Under the so-called " `system of soothing,' . . . all punishments were avoided . . . confinement was seldom resorted to . . . the patients, while secretly watched, were left much apparent liberty, and . . . most of them were permitted to roam about the house and grounds, in the ordinary apparel of persons of right mind." By the time our narrator
Change Over Time – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 10, 2016
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