Joined: 29 Sep 2015
The Victorian lunatic asylums of this city were magnificent, from the purely architectural
point of view. Municipal pride, manifested by artistic embellishment without utilitarian
purpose, shone out from them. They were built on generous grounds in what were then rural
areas, outside the city bounds, on the theory that rustic peace had a healing effect upon
fractured minds—and also that remoteness would protect the sane of the city from
distressing contact with the insane. The city expanded and soon engulfed the asylums, but
the grounds remained, often the only islands of green in a sea of soot and red brick.
These grounds, right up until the asylums closed, were tended with a care that spoke of
love and devotion.
For all who worked in them, the asylums provided a genuine sense of community. Indeed, by
the time of their closure, they were the only real communities for miles around, the
surrounding society having been smashed into atoms. They held annual cricket matches and
other sporting contests on their spacious lawns, and hosted summer and Christmas balls.
The staff were often second- or third-generation employees, and the institution was
central to their lives.
The patients benefited from the stability; the asylum was a little world in which they
could behave as strangely as they pleased without anyone caring too much. They were free
of the mockery and disdain with which people elsewhere would greet their strange demeanor,
gestures, and ideas: for in the asylum, the strange was normal. Within its bounds, there
was no stigma.
But of course, there was a very dark side as well. Physical conditions, especially for
those patients so chronically ill that the wards were in effect their homes, were
appalling. There was no privacy, with beds sometimes packed so closely together that no
one could walk between them. The smell of urine so deeply impregnated the furnishings and
floors of the dayrooms that it seemed ineradicable (not that anyone tried to eradicate
it). The stodgy food and physical inactivity meant that chronic constipation was
universal; and most patients looked as if they had filtered their food through their slips
and stockings. Aimless wandering in the corridors was the principal recreation for many
patients, who rarely saw a doctor, therapeutic impotence being more or less taken for
Most of the staff were kindly and well-meaning, but, as in any situation in which some
human beings have unsupervised care of and power over others, opportunities for sadism
abounded. Usually these were minor: they often saw nurses denying bread and water to
patients, telling them to come back in a few minutes, for no other reason than the
pleasure of exerting power over a fellow being. But from time to time, far worse cruelty
would surface, always hushed up in the name of institutional morale. This was easily done,
since very few outside the asylum concerned themselves with what went on inside.
St. Helga's Cures:
Leeching: The application of a living leech to the skin in order to initiate blood
flow or deplete blood from a localized area of the body.
Bloodletting: The withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and
Leucotomy/Lobotomy: The surgical interruption of nerve tracts to and from the
frontal lobe of the brain.
Solitary Confinement: The isolation of a patient in a separate cell.
Ice Baths: The placement of a patient in a tub full of ice or ice-cold water in
order to draw out their ailments.
St. Helga's Attire:
Shift: A shift would be made of linen and would serve as both nightgown and slip. A
woman might only own two or three. She would wear her shift night and day, often for weeks
or more at a time especially in winter, without laundering. Underpants did not exist yet
so a woman would wear absolutely nothing under her shift!
Stockings: Everyone wore socks called "stockings" that came up over the knee. They
were commonly hand-knitted of wool or linen. Elastic had not been invented yet, so
stockings were held up with garters. These garters could be made of ribbon, knitted or
leather strips and might tie or buckle on above or below the knee.
There is not yet electricity, and water that is pure enough to drink is very rare to
come across. This being said, please keep in mind the time period as you roleplay.
The password is 'butternut'
Evangline Asmosia-Haste. Fifteen. Orphan.
Eidetic Memory. Female Hysteria.