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    In plain sight: open doors, mixed-sex wards and English psychiatric hospitals, 1950s-early 1990s

    Hide, Louise (2018) In plain sight: open doors, mixed-sex wards and English psychiatric hospitals, 1950s-early 1990s. Social History of Medicine 31 (4), pp. 732-753. ISSN 0951-631X.

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    This article investigates the consequences of unlocking psychiatric wards and allowing male and female patients and staff to mix freely in the post-war period. I argue that the sexes were allowed to socialise with each other primarily for the benefit of male patients, and that some superintendents were ‘blind’ to the dangers of sexual abuse to which female patients were exposed, especially given the growing number of male ‘sexual psychopaths’ who were being admitted to open wards. While male nurses did complain about mixed wards in the mid 1960s, it was not until the rise of feminism and patient activism that the extent of sexual abuse and violence in hospitals began to be revealed a decade later. By the 1980s, despite calls to return to segregated living, psychiatric hospitals were no longer able to fund single-sex wards, exposing many women to sexual danger and deterring them from seeking help as in-patients.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): mixed-sex ward, psychiatric hospital, sexual abuse, open doors, deinstitutionalisation
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Louise Hide
    Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2018 15:54
    Last Modified: 11 Dec 2019 12:22


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