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25 Modern Medical Reasons You’d Be Admitted to an Asylum in the 1800s

Great Excitement

Have you ever gotten super excited about something? Yes? Well, you’re clearly hysteric and should be in an asylum. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to be thrown into an asylum because they simply got too excited.

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It’s obvious that women had a difficult time in the 1800s, but this takes the cake. If a woman told her husband no and “disobeyed” him, she would find herself in an asylum. The reason? Naturally, she was hysteric – a term which comes from the Greek word that means uterus.

Leaving Husband

This is a one-way street. A man can leave their wife, but a woman couldn’t leave her husband. To do so was simply insane. The woman needed an intervention and ASAP! Men, on the other hand, could lock up their spouse and run away with the kids without question.


Since dementia and Alzheimer’s hadn't been discovered, dementia patients were admitted into an asylum. Chances are, they didn’t receive the proper care, so they just deteriorated at a faster rate. To the staff at the asylum, the patient just got worse and worse and nothing could stop it.

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Post-partum depression is extremely serious and affects one in seven women at a minimum. Considering how many children women had in the 1800s, the chances of a woman getting PPD was higher, and experiencing this disorder would cause her to be admitted to an asylum. There, she wouldn’t receive the treatment she needed.

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In the 1800s, there was no distinction between epilepsy and schizophrenia. Epilepsy can be caused by head trauma, lack of certain hormones, a poor diet, and many other things. In the 1800s, there weren’t treatments for this disorder, and the patients would likely just get worse.

Downs Syndrome

Considering Downs Syndrome wasn’t discovered until the 1900s, it isn’t a surprise that the 1800s didn’t know about this mental disorder. Those that had it were marked as having “idiocy.” They would be placed in a facility with no chance of “recovery.”

Mental Breakdown

Having a mental breakdown sadly isn’t too uncommon, and some people may need help from a professional. Unfortunately, someone who had a mental breakdown in the 1800s would be suffering from domestic illness. They would be kept in an asylum and went through a variety of cruel procedures to cure them.

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Even today, those that have an issue with alcohol may need help from a medical professional to get over their addiction, but it was something even worse in the 1800s. Someone that gots drunk every day would be labeled as psychotic and suffering from psychosis.

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Being Sexual

Women in the 1800s were supposed to be very modest in appearance and behavior. If she were “promiscuous” by this era’s standards, she would need mental assistance for being “overly sexual.” Basically, she couldn’t sleep with anyone that wasn’t her husband.

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Anyone that masturbated was considered insane in the 1800s. Masturbation was frowned upon (we're putting it lightly) during this era. Even now, some religions consider masturbation incredibly taboo, but at least, they aren’t thrown in an asylum.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a newer disorder that we don’t know much about – even now. Back in the 1800s, they didn’t even know it existed. Those that were considered lazy could be thrown into an asylum, and the level of laziness was debatable.

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Anxiety affects at least 40 million people, which is a significant number of the population. In the Victorian area, this condition would be labeled as “paranoia,” and it needed immediate intervention, which was mostly restraining the person.


Sleep disorders are extremely common, and insomnia is one of the most prevalent. It leads to symptoms like irritability, depression, and slowness. Due to the lack of knowledge, Victorians assumed insomniacs needed to be in an asylum.

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Don’t love yourself too much or else something bad might happen. How much “egotism” that was required was also really up to whoever thought they belonged in an asylum.

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PMS happens to every woman once a month. Some women get a little bummed while others get irritable, but women in the 1800s had to hide it. If she didn’t, she’d be thrown in an asylum because she was having “imaginary female troubles.”

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Apparently, people in the 1800s took “love thy neighbor” very seriously. Jealousy is a natural emotion that humans have. We’ve all been jealous at least once or twice in our lives (if not more), but it could have ended up with you in an asylum. 


Grief is pretty tough to work through, and no one can tell another when they ought to get over the death of someone close to them…except in the 1800s. Back then, being sad too long after the death of a friend or family member would send you to an asylum.

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Religious Excitement

Overzealous about your religion? Obviously, you belong in an asylum. Now, we’re all fairly accepting about how people want to practice their religion – even those that allow themselves to be bitten by poisonous snakes on purpose. In the 1800s, that would have landed them in an asylum.

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Dread of Poverty

Who doesn’t dread poverty? Now, it could be equated to not being able to pay your bills, although you’d just be thrown in debtor’s prison during the 1800s. Much of the impoverished population had been thrown into asylums if the capacity was there.

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How could a woman ever reject a man? There was no such thing as “friend-zone” in the 1800s because that meant you were insane. "Disappointed affections" was the label what the asylum would label, but we know it was telling a guy to get away.

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Intense Study

Cramming for a test? With the way college is now, almost every student spends weeks at a time studying. This is proof that school was probably easier in the 1800s because studying too hard would clearly be a sign of insanity.

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Domestic Difficulties

Anyone has ever been in a relationship will tell you that fights happen. It’s a part of relationships, but it wasn’t acceptable two centuries ago. Chances are, the woman would be thrown into an asylum over the man because…well, she was obviously having trouble with her menses. 


It isn’t uncommon for people to protest something in their life, but every protester would have been thrown in an asylum for civil disruption. This goes double for a protest that led to rioting – although, it didn’t take much for a protest to be considered a riot back in the 1800s.

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Being Gay

Loving someone of the same gender was seen as taboo and insane in the 1800s. Most asylums would mark the reason for this as “madness,” but the reason didn’t matter so much. Most patients were there because of “sexual intemperance.”

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