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Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

Ten Days in a Mad-House (original 1887; edition 2012)

by Nellie Bly (Author)

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3021753,788 (3.76)28
Title:Ten Days in a Mad-House
Authors:Nellie Bly (Author)
Info:A Nellie Bly Book (2012), 96 pages
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Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly (1887)



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Short but inciteful. Not a lot of depth but who cares?! Interesting to see how investigative reporting was done in an earlier time. ( )
  marshapetry | Nov 20, 2018 |
First of all, I tried to imagine what kind of courage it took for Nellie Bly to allow herself to be committed to this kind of horrible institution from which there were no avenues of escape. I would have been too frightened of the possibility of being left there indefinitely to accept this assignment!

The writing is very straight forward and the experiences are detailed in a way that makes it ring with truth. It seems that the most cruel of people were employed in insane asylums at this time and that anyone who was sane going in would be quite insane coming out.

My father's best friend was committed against his will to a state insane asylum in the early 1960s. He went in a jovial, quite man with a drinking problem, he came out a broken man, sad and depressed. He told my father that no one would ever know what he had endured at the hands of his "keepers". He killed himself several months after his release, leaving a note that said he could not sleep for fear of being recommitted and would rather be dead. My father was inconsolable and never forgave his friend's wife for having put him there in the first place.

Those kinds of institutions are closed now and I'm sure people who go into care facilities get serious attempts at help. My concern now is that there is very little help available for people with chronic mental health issues and no money to get the help they need. At least no one can commit you without a hearing and the legal system has been vastly improved since the time when Nellie Bly could be so easily committed to an Island without any limit on the time she could be held or the treatments she could receive. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
~Kindle edition ASIN: B0049P1O16

This ebook version of TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE actually has 3 different investigations by Nellie Bly. The main and longest treatise is about her internment in the Blackwell Island institute for the insane. The other two stories are brief looks at two aspects of the lives of young working women at the bottom rungs of industrial revolution.

In the first of the two smaller stories, TRYING TO BE A SERVANT, Nellie goes in search of a job using the agencies that purport to service both the House Owner and girls looking for a position. Without credentials you'd think that it would be placed as a maid or nanny. Turns out that that is true but not for the reasons you'd think.

In WHITE SLAVE, Nellie goes to work "in the Role of a New York Shop-Girl Making Paper Boxes". One of the things we discover is that earning a living wage is not a new problem.

These smaller studies are interesting in that they provide glimpses into the lives of families struggling to survive. The dreariness comes through, which makes it all the easier to appreciate the kindness that the girls show one another.
The main treat though is TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE. It's a more complex tale that is presented in a very personal manner. This expose is a bit wordy, possibly because she was paid by the word, and the beginning is filled with the author's own doubts about whether she can pull this off.

We are soon plunged though into the bizarre and unpleasant world of Blackwell Island. The horrid treatment of the inmates is more or less what you would expect. I do suggest though that you to try to read between the lines.

This isn't an era I know a great deal about, but I am left thinking that Nellie was dancing around some really unpleasant activities because she expected her audience to get the nuances. Several times, for example, the nurses asked Nellie whether she found a certain doctor attractive. I'm wondering if this wasn't a polite way to insinuate that the nurses pimping for the doctors.

Nellie Bly as a narrator stands out as a pretty engaging character. Born a year before the end of the American Civil War she is nothing if not spunky, and she charges into situations where the more cautious of us might decide not to tread. Her story telling in TEN DAYS IN A MAD-HOUSE is a bit verbose, but effective. She certainly made me concerned and then angry at how the institute was run.

A good piece of investigative journalism. Well worth the read.
  PamFamilyLibrary | Dec 28, 2016 |
This is an exciting and haunting narrative made even more so by the fact that it is true (at least mostly, it is possible that Nellie Bly exaggerated a few things, but given the fact that we now know how poorly the mentally ill were treated back then I would believe most of it.)

As a side note, I would like to say that the Librivox reader of this book is very good, though I do wish there was an afterwards or something to explain how the asylum closed (because I know that it did.)

It pissed me off though because here is David Daleidon doing the same thing; going undercover to report on the corruptions of a big medical facility/institution and nobody does anything to fix the corruptions that he saw and reported. But I probably won't post this last paragraph because people on the internet are mean and hateful and love to start political arguments even though they know that the last time anyone was persuaded by an argument on the internet was, well, never. ( )
  NicoleSch | Aug 11, 2016 |
Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly was a complete gamble. I saw it as a free download on my Kindle and I snatched it up on a whim. This is the true account of a young female reporter who lied her way into the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York. Originally published as a series of articles in 1887, Ten Days in a Mad-House is shocking in its stark depiction of how 'insane' women are treated. Nellie describes women who are no more mentally deficient than she herself is (and once inside she asserted again and again her sanity and acted no different than she would had she her freedom). The horrific conditions of the facilities and the demoralizing treatment heaped upon them by the staff at the asylum were startling to say the least (and absolutely disgusting). After reading this small book, I decided to do a little research into Bly and discovered that beyond being an advocate for women's rights she was also an inventor and an adventurer. (She traveled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days!) This was a short little book that packed a big punch due to its subject matter and the passion with which Bly clearly had for improving the situation of those deemed 'mentally insane'. In those days, you could get rid of the unwanted women in your life by simply dropping them off at the asylum and saying they were 'crazy'. The vetting process was nearly nonexistent and any attempt to assert your sanity was dismissed offhand. I recommend this for anyone in the mood for a fast nonfiction book from a voice that is both intelligent and impassioned. 8/10 ( )
  AliceaP | Aug 9, 2016 |
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On the 22nd of September I was asked by the World if I could have myself committed to one of the asylums for the insane in New York, with a view to writing a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of the patients therein and the methods of management, etc.
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In 1887, Nellie Bly went undercover for the New York World newspaper by feigning insanity to investigate conditions at the Blackwell's Island insane asylum.

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