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A Refuge of Cure or Care

The Sensory Dimensions of Confinement at the Worcester State Hospital fo
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In A Refuge of Cure or Care: The Sensory Dimensions of Confinement at the Worcester State Hospital for the Insane, Madeline Kearin Ryan analyzes the therapy model of the nineteenth-century asylum. Because the five senses were believed to provide a direct conduit into a person's mental condition, the curative force of the Hospital was thought to reside in its command over sensory experience. Ryan examines how the institution was designed to target each of the five senses as a mode of therapy, and conversely, how that well-intentioned design materialized in the haphazard realm of institutional practice. In doing so, Ryan seeks to reconcile the disjuncture between the benevolent promise of the asylum model and its ultimate failure in a way that captures the complex power dynamics and heterogeneity of actors within the institution.
Madeline Kearin Ryan is archivist at the Worcester Historical Museum.
Chapter 1: "A State of Conscious and Permanent Visibility": Sight as an Instrument of Cure and Control Chapter 2: "As Syllable from Sound": The Sonic Dimensions of Confinement Chapter 3: The Smell of the Insane: Disciplining the Olfactory Domain Chapter 4: Dirty Bread, Forced Feeding, and Tea Parties: The Uses and Abuses of Food Chapter 5: "Curious Relics" and "Drafty Corridors": The Material World of the Asylum
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