Frequently Asked Question: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever Googled in researching a story?
This month’s question comes from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
When I was writing In The Eye of The Beholder and In The Eye of The Storm, I researched how women’s mental health issues were managed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Suffice to say, it was pretty awful! I needed to know how Claire Delacroix’s melancholia would have been seen by physicians. Some would have had her put into complete isolation (as happens in Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s The Yellow Wallpaper). Others would have insisted that any pets she had be killed and she be impregnated at once … which leads to a physician being summarily escorted from the house in In The Eye of The Beholder. Claire loves her pets, and Erik won’t let anything happen to them.
It took surprisingly little for women to be hospitalized or otherwise confined as “insane” at the time. Reading novels or arguing with a neighbor could be adequate cause.
I subsequently wrote an article for InD’Tale magazine about the matter.
I also found Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing, and used that information in conjunction with what I learned about the so-called moral treatment (a kind of early occupational therapy developed by an English Quaker named William Tuke) for contrast to what the medical establishment was doing at the time.