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In 1887, 23-year-old reporter Nellie Bly had herself committed to a New York City asylum for 10 days to expose the horrific conditions for 19th-century century mental patients.


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In 1887, 23-year-old reporter Nellie Bly had herself committed to a New York City asylum for 10 days to expose the horrific conditions for 19th-century century mental patients.

30 review for Ten Days in a Mad-House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA

    If you read this book without knowing anything of Nellie Bly except that she was a journalist, you might think it was a wonderful expose of the absolute horrors of bedlam in New York. You might doubt whether really the food was so bad that apart from a crust or two and a bowl of cold tea, it was totally inedible - the bread had spiders baked into it. You might wonder if the nurses were all nasty, brutish and extremely violent. Question if the doctors were either having public affairs with their If you read this book without knowing anything of Nellie Bly except that she was a journalist, you might think it was a wonderful expose of the absolute horrors of bedlam in New York. You might doubt whether really the food was so bad that apart from a crust or two and a bowl of cold tea, it was totally inedible - the bread had spiders baked into it. You might wonder if the nurses were all nasty, brutish and extremely violent. Question if the doctors were either having public affairs with their illiterate nursing assistants or just plain blind to the extreme violence, starvation and freezing conditions all around. You might even come to the conclusion, as I did that even if half (or perhaps a quarter) of all this was true then it was outrageous and perhaps fantastical. But it was a good bit of reporting, because she was taken seriously and conditions did change for the better, or were said to, which is the same thing in a book. However, if you knew that Nellie Bly (the pseudonym of Elizabeth Cochran) was an investigative journalist with all that implies in the modern era, and had also written, "Nellie Bly as a White Slave" and "Trying to be a Servant" you might think she was a bit of a sensationalist reporter who'd do anything for a laff and a buck and you wouldn't be far wrong. (These two pieces are available at the link above here Also some strange advertisements). It was then my opinion of the book sunk down to a 3 star. Just a journalist assignment, pays the bills, keeps her in the public eye as a late 19thC 'celebrity'. Just as she went off on a less-than-eighty-days jaunt around the world for a newspaper. But then, it all changed when I read that these sensationalist titles were to gain the popular eye - Nellie Bly was a fierce feminist and exposer of the terrible attitudes and sometimes treatment women faced from the completely male-driven society of her time. Nellie Bly's schtick extended to exposing prison conditions (which she also got improved somewhat), corruption in the State Legislature (you think anyone could affect political corruption more than temporarily?) So sensationalism was a means to an end. How could I give less than 5 stars to a woman who stood together with Emma Goldman and Susan B. Anthony. She should be better known now and an icon of her times and profession. The book is free here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    This was a very disturbing read for me. Mental health is an illness and this book showed how horribly patients were being treated at the Women's Lunatic Asylum in 1887. It brought back the horrible images of how, in the 70's, Geraldo Rivera blew the whistle on Willowbrook State School in Staten Island where the same horrific treatment of patients was happening. This small book is not for the faint of heart. This was a very disturbing read for me. Mental health is an illness and this book showed how horribly patients were being treated at the Women's Lunatic Asylum in 1887. It brought back the horrible images of how, in the 70's, Geraldo Rivera blew the whistle on Willowbrook State School in Staten Island where the same horrific treatment of patients was happening. This small book is not for the faint of heart.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    3.5 Stars Ten Days in a Mad-House is a book by newspaper reporter Nellie Bly. Nellie took the terrifying task of posing as Nellie Borwn in an undercover assisment to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. While on the assignment she feigned insanity at a women's boarding house and was involuntarily committed to the Women's Lunatic Alylum on Blackwell's Island. Ten Days in a Mad House is a quick and insightful read into the way the mentally ill were treated or should I say mist 3.5 Stars Ten Days in a Mad-House is a book by newspaper reporter Nellie Bly. Nellie took the terrifying task of posing as Nellie Borwn in an undercover assisment to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. While on the assignment she feigned insanity at a women's boarding house and was involuntarily committed to the Women's Lunatic Alylum on Blackwell's Island. Ten Days in a Mad House is a quick and insightful read into the way the mentally ill were treated or should I say mistreated in many cases during the latter part of the 19th century. What shocked me the most about this story was how quickly the doctors pronounced Nellie insane and how many sick and sane people ended up in Asylums for completely the wrong reasons. This account is told in a matter of fact style and is not dramatic in the telling but I suppose this is reflected in the fact that it was originally written as newpaper articles. It was so upsetting to read the suffering of patients and while accounts of beatings and cruelty was difficult to read I found the patients suffering of cold and hunger and sanitary needs just heartbreaking as these people were what could only be described as tortured mentally and physically by the state and many of the employees of these institutions. The public response to her writings was enormous and as a result and investigation was set up and a vast sum invested to improve conditions in the Asylums which was a great achievement for Nellie Bly and her time spent undercover did so much highlight the conditions of patients in Asylums.

  4. 5 out of 5

    VictoriaNickers

    Ten Days in a Mad-house, hat's off to you, Nellie Bly. My new hero.    For the sake of a story, she faked insanity and she got herself admitted into an insane asylum then wrote an exposé on the Blackwell's Island women's asylum in New York. Not knowing how, or if, she or anybody else would be able to get her out. And all this before women even had the right to vote. Blows my mind. Girls got guts.     The story was published in a series of articles for Joseph Pulitzer's New York City Newspaper The Wo Ten Days in a Mad-house, hat's off to you, Nellie Bly. My new hero.    For the sake of a story, she faked insanity and she got herself admitted into an insane asylum then wrote an exposé on the Blackwell's Island women's asylum in New York. Not knowing how, or if, she or anybody else would be able to get her out. And all this before women even had the right to vote. Blows my mind. Girls got guts.     The story was published in a series of articles for Joseph Pulitzer's New York City Newspaper The World in the late 1800s (Yes, dude who the Pulitzer Prize is named after) and then later in novel form. I can't help but think about what an exciting time it must have been to read newspapers in New York. This must have been the golden age of journalism. Really, it's investigative journalism at it's best. Nellie Bly could teach a thing or two to all those reporters who now write crappy commentary reports on the latest episodes of the Kardashian's. Well written journalism like this is a hard thing to come by these days. Or maybe I'm just reading the wrong websites, I dunno?!?    The story is compelling, eye opening and horrifying all at the same time. The abuse of power and the conditions that these women suffered makes me think about how people who can do little for themselves are treated by others in society. What does that say for humanity? Has anything changed in the 21st century? It's a very thought provoking read. It's a must read.    Wow, I'm still amazed by the story. It will be one that haunts me for a long time.  She also wrote Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, also for The World, which wasinspired by Jules Verne Around the World in Eighty Days. I have never read Jules Verne in my life but I am definitely going to pick it up and then read Nellie Bly's account of her attempt to match it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    This is an extraordinary account. Nellie Bly was a force to be reckoned with as a reporter and as a person. She allowed herself to be institutionalized in a notorious insane asylum in New York to do an investigation on how the mentally ill women were treated there. Her article of that experience was written in 1887. She also did reports on Employment Agencies for women and the treatment of female factory workers in New York. Two of these articles were included at the end of Ten Days in a Madhous This is an extraordinary account. Nellie Bly was a force to be reckoned with as a reporter and as a person. She allowed herself to be institutionalized in a notorious insane asylum in New York to do an investigation on how the mentally ill women were treated there. Her article of that experience was written in 1887. She also did reports on Employment Agencies for women and the treatment of female factory workers in New York. Two of these articles were included at the end of Ten Days in a Madhouse. If she wasn't a good writer, these reports would still be of interest because of the snapshot of a time when women were entering the work force and about public mental health facilities. I heard about this story from another book I read and avoided it at first, since I thought it would be a torturous read in an 1880s vernacular, but it was well written and matter of fact. The only drawback to the report was that while she said the city decided to give more money to the asylum, I would have liked to know how the money was spent and if life did improve for the poor souls.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣

    Ten Days in a Mad-House is one amazing book! I love it. The fact that it's a real story makes it even more interesting. Nellie Bly is a journalist who is asked to go undercover as a patient in an asylum and write about it. She does and it's amazing how easily she is declared insane. The examination mainly consists in a brief physical checkup (what's that all about looking at the tongue?) and a few questions focused on whether or not she is a kept woman. She is finally shipped to the Women's Lunat Ten Days in a Mad-House is one amazing book! I love it. The fact that it's a real story makes it even more interesting. Nellie Bly is a journalist who is asked to go undercover as a patient in an asylum and write about it. She does and it's amazing how easily she is declared insane. The examination mainly consists in a brief physical checkup (what's that all about looking at the tongue?) and a few questions focused on whether or not she is a kept woman. She is finally shipped to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island, at which point she decides to start behaving normal again (without letting her true identity be known). Still she is labeled delusional and treated as such. There's an almost funny situation in which the doctor asks Nellie if she hears voices during the night. She replies truthfully that she does (the nurses were always extremely noisy). During Bly's stay at the asylum, the doctors are ignorant and the nurses are abusive. They mock, beat and even strangle the patients. And they threaten worse if anybody complains to the doctors. Not to mention the ice-cold baths. They are administered regardless of the patient's health status. Got a fever? Here's a cold bath! Pneumonia? Even better! It's just horrible and I'm thankful for the time period I live in with its scientific progress. And those poor women. Not all of them were mad. There were women brought in by their husbands, fathers or friends. Some of them didn't even know where they were being taken to until it was too late. Ten Days in a Mad-House is a short, incisive book (Bly tries to keep as objective as possible) and you can read it here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    For its time, its quite a story and the reporter took quite a little risk when she got herself tossed into an asylum back in those days, depending on acquaintances to get her back out when the time came. I'm not sure I'd be quite so trusting, under those circumstances. She found quite a story behind the walls, and what she wrote made quite a stir when she got out. For its time, its quite a story and the reporter took quite a little risk when she got herself tossed into an asylum back in those days, depending on acquaintances to get her back out when the time came. I'm not sure I'd be quite so trusting, under those circumstances. She found quite a story behind the walls, and what she wrote made quite a stir when she got out.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ~Jo~

    Well, Nellie Bly, you have my utmost respect. What an inspirational human being. Someone that would purposely get themselves admitted into an asylum for the insane, in order to potentially uncover the inhumane treatment of the women there, has to be one amazing and passionate individual. She did this not knowing whether she'd actually be able to get out again, and, even before women received the right to vote. I've been knocked off my feet here. Just wow. What is contained in this book is compell Well, Nellie Bly, you have my utmost respect. What an inspirational human being. Someone that would purposely get themselves admitted into an asylum for the insane, in order to potentially uncover the inhumane treatment of the women there, has to be one amazing and passionate individual. She did this not knowing whether she'd actually be able to get out again, and, even before women received the right to vote. I've been knocked off my feet here. Just wow. What is contained in this book is compelling, but also incredibly horrific. The people who just outrightly abused their position of power in order to make those poor women suffer, is just unforgiveable. It makes one wonder just how many women in the asylum were detained in there longer, due to the inhumane mistreatment and abuse that they suffered at the hands of these so called "Nurses" Some of those women were brought in, and they were not even ill, and by the time they figured out where they were, it was obviously too late. This was so thought provoking, and the story itself will stay with me, and will probably haunt me for a long time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    There are a number of publishers offering this book and, of the few I have seen, I found this publication to be more enjoyable. In any of the publications, readers will find the main story of how journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (pen name Nellie Bly) posed as an insane person in order to gain entry into Bellevue hospital on Blackwell's Island. This is a revealing look not only into how people were institutionalized 130 years ago, but also the lack of knowledge of medical doctors at that time. There are a number of publishers offering this book and, of the few I have seen, I found this publication to be more enjoyable. In any of the publications, readers will find the main story of how journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman (pen name Nellie Bly) posed as an insane person in order to gain entry into Bellevue hospital on Blackwell's Island. This is a revealing look not only into how people were institutionalized 130 years ago, but also the lack of knowledge of medical doctors at that time. The book also includes two short articles on employment agencies and women working in paper box factories. I found this publication more enjoyable for a number of reasons. There are hand drawn illustrations throughout the book depicting Ms. Seaman at various stages of her investigations. The back of the book features pictures of Ms. Seaman and a list of words that might not be well-known to modern readers. The Annotations section in the back offers an overview of Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum as well as notes on Ms. Seaman's participation. Her other books are also listed. If this book interests you, I would recommend this publisher (Amazon - in Kindle or paperback) over the others I have seen. Excellent book for those interested in history or just curious about this slice of life in New York over a century ago. Four stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    "I always had a desire to know asylum life more thoroughly - a desire to be convinced that the most helpless of God's creatures, the insane, were cared for kindly and properly." New York World journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, aka Nellie Bly, goes undercover as "demented" Nellie Brown with a mission to investigate Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum. Nellie Bly uncovers flaws before, during, and beyond the asylum. From admission to release, I felt frustrated and never relieved (if that's n "I always had a desire to know asylum life more thoroughly - a desire to be convinced that the most helpless of God's creatures, the insane, were cared for kindly and properly." New York World journalist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, aka Nellie Bly, goes undercover as "demented" Nellie Brown with a mission to investigate Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum. Nellie Bly uncovers flaws before, during, and beyond the asylum. From admission to release, I felt frustrated and never relieved (if that's not your taste, you may not enjoy Ten Days in a Mad-House like I did). The late 1880s really does not feel distant while reading this investigation. Today, we still have cases of abuse towards, and the diagnoses of, the mentally (and non) ill at the hands of caretakers and schools. But here was a woman taken without her own consent from a free world to an asylum and there given no chance to prove her sanity. Confined most probably for life behind asylum bars, without even being told in her language the why and wherefore. Compare this with a criminal, who is given every chance to prove his innocence. We've heard at least one "story has it" about asylums. Rumors and ghost stories had to stem from somewhere. Well, read this and you will get a feel of why admitted "patients" would want to haunt the abandoned hallways of their prisons.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    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 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was amazing and horrifying. In 1887 Nellie Bly faked insanity and spent 10 days in an insane asylum so she could report on the conditions. The conditions were horrendous at best. There were beatings, cold baths in the same water as all the other "prisoners', inedible food, extreme cold conditions and the list goes on and on. Due to her bravery and reporting skills she was able to improve conditions and get more money allocated to treatment of the insane then ever had before. This was amazing and horrifying. In 1887 Nellie Bly faked insanity and spent 10 days in an insane asylum so she could report on the conditions. The conditions were horrendous at best. There were beatings, cold baths in the same water as all the other "prisoners', inedible food, extreme cold conditions and the list goes on and on. Due to her bravery and reporting skills she was able to improve conditions and get more money allocated to treatment of the insane then ever had before.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    This started out so strong and then ended pretty weak. Nellie Bly gets herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the experience. She states her intentions at the very beginning of the book, taking time to set up the reader for what we are about to embark on. I was intrigued, I was eager to dive in and see what happened and if she made it out. She spends a lot of the book focusing on getting in, which barely constitutes an exam. Once in, she easily gets by all the staff and the other pati This started out so strong and then ended pretty weak. Nellie Bly gets herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the experience. She states her intentions at the very beginning of the book, taking time to set up the reader for what we are about to embark on. I was intrigued, I was eager to dive in and see what happened and if she made it out. She spends a lot of the book focusing on getting in, which barely constitutes an exam. Once in, she easily gets by all the staff and the other patients. They are constantly cold, placed in freezing water that never gets changed between bodies and barely get served edible food. The writing is a bit disjointed the latter half and then very quickly wraps up. An interesting, quick read on her experience (which is still fascinating!)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christy B

    I do not know where to even start with this. The fact that this was non fiction just blew my mind. I've read fiction books that take place in mad houses during the 19th century, but the fiction was more of a reality than I had originally thought. Nellie Bly is a journalist and gets an assignment in 1887 to go undercover and spend ten days in a mad-house and report her findings. She goes about this by purchasing a room in a women's boarding house and acting peculiar. She says that all the other wo I do not know where to even start with this. The fact that this was non fiction just blew my mind. I've read fiction books that take place in mad houses during the 19th century, but the fiction was more of a reality than I had originally thought. Nellie Bly is a journalist and gets an assignment in 1887 to go undercover and spend ten days in a mad-house and report her findings. She goes about this by purchasing a room in a women's boarding house and acting peculiar. She says that all the other women are crazy; she sits up all night; she keeps asking where her trunks are. None of this is even remotely crazy behavior, but the other boarders become agitated and the police are called in. Just goes to show how quickly a label was placed on somebody. Eventually, she is declared mad and sent off to the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. When Nellie is in the mad house, she discovers that absolutely nothing is being done to help anyone, and just how quickly women were admitted. Some women were just getting over physical illnesses, some women couldn't even speak English! Nellie acts perfectly sane once she arrives, but no matter what she says, it's blown over as 'ravings.' Someone women actually ask the doctors to test them to see if they are insane or not, but they are ignored. And the doctors do absolutely nothing. They do not even listen to the women. Everything they say is written off as ravings of a mad woman. The women were fed food that wasn't even fit for animal consumption. There was absolutely no heat, so the women practically froze to death. The women were given baths in cold water that wasn't even changed until the water got thick. ICK. The nurses used physical violence, along with agitating some of the women to act mad in front of the doctors. Some women were afraid to report this to the doctors, but it was no use if they did, because the doctors didn't listen, anyhow. There were no activities to stimulate the minds of the patients, so, if anything, these so-call "hospitals' actually made most of the patients - who weren't even mad to begin with - actually mad. When Bly left, her reports launched a jury investigation, and surprise surprise! Things started to improve. This book was riveting. It made me angry; it disgusted me. Nellie Bly was truly an amazing woman. I suggest reading more about her.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Nellie Bly was the world's first stunt journalist. She traveled around the world in 72 days to beat Phineas Fogg, she documented the conditions of women factory workers, and she faked insanity to get committed to the notorious Blackwell Island. This is her expose of the conditions there. You too can practice insanity at home! It's a great read: brisk, engaging, convincing. She describes with authority and empathy the freezing, starving, beating, choking and waterboarding of the poor women interred Nellie Bly was the world's first stunt journalist. She traveled around the world in 72 days to beat Phineas Fogg, she documented the conditions of women factory workers, and she faked insanity to get committed to the notorious Blackwell Island. This is her expose of the conditions there. You too can practice insanity at home! It's a great read: brisk, engaging, convincing. She describes with authority and empathy the freezing, starving, beating, choking and waterboarding of the poor women interred there, some of whom are actually crazy and some rapidly being driven so; it's easy to see why reform came immediately after the piece's publication. She also can't resist giggling a little over a handsome doctor she meets there, which is weird but charming. It's about a hundred pages and it reads quickly. Here's the full text, complete with illustrations. There are also good cheap Kindle versions around.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linda Strong

    Ten Days in A Mad-House, Was Written By Nellie Bly in 1887, after she lived, undercover, at a women's insane asylum at Blackwell's Island in 1887 for ten days. This was an assignment given to her by Joseph Pulitzer. It is so hard to read this account in 2017 ... 130 years after Nellie Bly's report of her 10 days uncover playing the part of an insane woman. At that time there were 1600 women imprisoned.. some of them for nothing more than not being able to speak English, some were there at the beh Ten Days in A Mad-House, Was Written By Nellie Bly in 1887, after she lived, undercover, at a women's insane asylum at Blackwell's Island in 1887 for ten days. This was an assignment given to her by Joseph Pulitzer. It is so hard to read this account in 2017 ... 130 years after Nellie Bly's report of her 10 days uncover playing the part of an insane woman. At that time there were 1600 women imprisoned.. some of them for nothing more than not being able to speak English, some were there at the behest of their husbands who had tired of them. Whatever the reasons, these women suffered on a daily basis. There was inadequate clothing ... some women actually died of hypothermia inside the asylum. They were given cold water baths once a week ... 62 women in Nellie's quarters shared the bath water. They were given very little in the way of clothing ... no blankets, no pillows, no shawls. The food was horrible. Cold tea (?) in the morning... piece of bread covered with a butter so rank it couldn't be eaten. Soup for lunch (cold) was served in the morning's tea cups. Meat was usually next to raw, some had worms, the inmates had no forks or knives and thus ate with their fingers if they ate at all. Nurses and/or caregivers were mean, cruel, some seemed to border on insanity themselves. The patients were tortured in some ways ... some were choked until they were unconscious, locked in closets. This book is the accounting of the things Nellie Bly saw and heard ... and which led to a court hearing in which she testified. I can only say how much I appreciate her efforts to ease the lives of these poor women and those that followed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    This was excellent. A journalist fakes insanity in order to gain admittance to an insane asylum in 1887. She sees some bad shit. She reports it. A number of reforms are introduced as a result of the bad shit she reports. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this until now. I listened to the audiobook which was only a couple hours long and the narration was outstanding. Highly recommended. I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased r This was excellent. A journalist fakes insanity in order to gain admittance to an insane asylum in 1887. She sees some bad shit. She reports it. A number of reforms are introduced as a result of the bad shit she reports. I can't believe I hadn't heard of this until now. I listened to the audiobook which was only a couple hours long and the narration was outstanding. Highly recommended. I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast.com Thanks for the book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Nellie Bly was a reporter in New York who convinced the courts that she was insane and got herself locked away at Blackwell's Island. Her expose of the conditions there led to increased care and resources given to the patients. What really shocked me about this piece was not the terrible treatment the patients endured, but how easily, and on what tenuous grounds, women were declared insane. Nellie Bly was a reporter in New York who convinced the courts that she was insane and got herself locked away at Blackwell's Island. Her expose of the conditions there led to increased care and resources given to the patients. What really shocked me about this piece was not the terrible treatment the patients endured, but how easily, and on what tenuous grounds, women were declared insane.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sara Dahaabović

    A non-fiction story by Nellie Bly (or as she calls herself in the book Nellie Brown), a reporter in the late 1880s that faked insanity in order to get committed to an asylum in Blackwell Island or as currently called Roosevelt Island in New York City. Roosevelt Island is a very small island which mainly had hospitals where they would send patients and "the insane" who needed be isolated from the rest of the city. "And then, once in, what would be my experience? And after? How to get out? Bah! A non-fiction story by Nellie Bly (or as she calls herself in the book Nellie Brown), a reporter in the late 1880s that faked insanity in order to get committed to an asylum in Blackwell Island or as currently called Roosevelt Island in New York City. Roosevelt Island is a very small island which mainly had hospitals where they would send patients and "the insane" who needed be isolated from the rest of the city. "And then, once in, what would be my experience? And after? How to get out? Bah! I said, they will get me out." There’s really no words to describe this, her bravery to do such an experiment in the 1880s! And the fact that she might have been stuck in there is beyond terrifying. For some reason this reminded me of the Bell Jar by Selvia Plath, maybe because patients with mental disorders were sadly treated horribly in both books. "I talked and acted just as I do in ordinary life. Yet strange to say, the more sanely I talked and acted the crazier I was thought to be..." What did I hate about this? The NURSES! Oh God they're monsters The physical examination and diagnosis?! It’s just completely sad that the doctor who examined her was actually flirting with the nurse while doing so, he decided that she was insane and to be put in the asylum and to be given drugs, (I’m really curious of what kind of drugs she was prescribed if she wasn’t even properly diagnosed?!) "He gave the nurse more attention than he did me, and asked her six questions to every one of me. Then he wrote my fate in the book before him." “take a dose of some mixture out of a glass to make me sleep, they said that if I did not take it he would put it into my arm with a needle.” All in all it was a really good book and I highly recommend it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.5 stars. Nellie Bly, the most renown female journalist of her time, went undercover, spending 10 days in an insane asylum, Blackwell's Island, just off New York City. She willingly got herself committed, to experience first hand research, for one of her first articles at the World News. Her 10 days were so horrific that she not only wrote this book on her experiences, but was also able to make major changes to the health care system. This book is the first hand account of Nellie's heroic stay 3.5 stars. Nellie Bly, the most renown female journalist of her time, went undercover, spending 10 days in an insane asylum, Blackwell's Island, just off New York City. She willingly got herself committed, to experience first hand research, for one of her first articles at the World News. Her 10 days were so horrific that she not only wrote this book on her experiences, but was also able to make major changes to the health care system. This book is the first hand account of Nellie's heroic stay for 10 days at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum. Her own torturous treatment and forced drug use, along with what she witnessed happening to other patients is spelled out in this book. There is nothing shocking that she revels, since that time frame in history has been well documented for it's cruelty to the poor and deranged. But to be confirmed, within it's own time, this book was eye opening. Nellie was heralded as a champion of the poor and down trodden and went to extraordinary measures to see that changes were made to the health care system in the way of treatment of our poor and disadvantaged. There is also a film, of the same name, which details Nellie Bly's experiences. Regardless of the poor quality of the obviously underfunded film, it does depict her time at Blackwell Island.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Demelda Penkitty

    In 1887, Nellie Bly had herself committed to the notorious Blackwell's Island insane asylum in New York City with the goal of discovering what life was like for its patients. While there, she experienced firsthand the shocking abuse and neglect of its inmates, from inedible food to horrifyingly unsanitary conditions. Ten Days in a Mad-House is Bly's expose of the asylum. Written for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, Bly's account chronicles her 10 days at Blackwell's Island and, upon its publicat In 1887, Nellie Bly had herself committed to the notorious Blackwell's Island insane asylum in New York City with the goal of discovering what life was like for its patients. While there, she experienced firsthand the shocking abuse and neglect of its inmates, from inedible food to horrifyingly unsanitary conditions. Ten Days in a Mad-House is Bly's expose of the asylum. Written for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, Bly's account chronicles her 10 days at Blackwell's Island and, upon its publication, drew public attention to the abuse of the institutionalized and led to a grand jury investigation of the facility. Ten Days in a Mad-House established Bly as a pioneering female journalist and remains a classic of investigative reporting. This was a sad account told by Nellie Bly who was incredibly brave to get herself admitted into this "mad house" so that she could tell the world about what actually happened behind closed doors. The horrific treatment of patients is the stuff from nightmares; staff beating and choking patients, freezing conditions, cold baths, rotten food etc. The list of atrocious behaviour by those in a position of care is endless. It is also shocking to read how quickly sane women were deemed insane for quite different illnesses, often nothing to do with their mental health at all. I was relieved and very glad that Nellie managed to free herself after the ten days but I would have been interested to know how she did that as it was virtually impossible to get released from these places. This is a very slim book at just under a hundred pages and is written in a language of the times but still very readable if you are interested in the subject matter. The edition I read also includes two of Bly's shorter articles: "Trying to Be a Servant" and "Nellie Bly as a White Slave".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    A couple of years ago I did a haunted walking tour in my neighborhood and the person in charge talked about this story. I was immediately intrigued and when I got home, got online and ordered the book. It proceeded to sit on my shelves and was forgotten for quite some time. Then late last year, I read The Address by Fiona Barton and lo and behold, Nellie Bly was mentioned and remembered I had this story to read... and finally I did! Nellie Bly went undercover in an insane asylum.... with no real A couple of years ago I did a haunted walking tour in my neighborhood and the person in charge talked about this story. I was immediately intrigued and when I got home, got online and ordered the book. It proceeded to sit on my shelves and was forgotten for quite some time. Then late last year, I read The Address by Fiona Barton and lo and behold, Nellie Bly was mentioned and remembered I had this story to read... and finally I did! Nellie Bly went undercover in an insane asylum.... with no real knowledge of how she may get back out. All to try and expose the horrible treatment of the women inside. By this point, we've all seen how patients have been treated in movies and wonder if it's done that savagely as a means of "entertainment" in such series as American Horror Story or movies about the insane. Sadly to say, it appears to only be a reflection of things that really happened back in the 1800s. Women were beaten, choked, given bread so stale and moldy that sometimes they would find spiders living inside them... ugh. The abuse of power and the fact that Nellie so easily was committed to Bellevue and then shipped to Blackwell's Island for the Insane is astonishing. At a mere 96 pages, this is one that will get to you. Fortunately, as a result of her visit and the exposure (though some well hidden and hard for her to prove), the City of New York appropriated $1,000,000 per annum than ever for the care of the insane. Ten days well spent in the mad-house for this to have occurred and I'm sure the patients thank her. I only drop this from a 5 star review to a 4 because I'm picky and noticed quite a few errors in this print that sometimes caused a little bit of confusion in my read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie "Cookie M."

    This is the true account of how 19th Century "girl reporter" Nellie Bly actually got herself committed with very little effort to a New York City insane asylum for 10 days to investigate the treatment and conditions of the patients. What she found and endured was horrifying and it led to changes in the law and governing boards of hospitals for the mentally ill. Yes, Nellie Bly existed, and she put herself into dangerous situations or social justice. This is the true account of how 19th Century "girl reporter" Nellie Bly actually got herself committed with very little effort to a New York City insane asylum for 10 days to investigate the treatment and conditions of the patients. What she found and endured was horrifying and it led to changes in the law and governing boards of hospitals for the mentally ill. Yes, Nellie Bly existed, and she put herself into dangerous situations or social justice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roo

    Nellie Bly was a trailblazing reporter around the turn of the century (19th-20th). She recounts her time spent in a mental institution, or "lunatic asylum" as they were called in those days. Bly details how she had to act "insane" so that the authorities would send her to Blackwell's Island. Further, she recounts the conditions that the women had to endure once committed. It's chilling in its details especially when you know that they would never be free again. Many of the women were not "crazy" Nellie Bly was a trailblazing reporter around the turn of the century (19th-20th). She recounts her time spent in a mental institution, or "lunatic asylum" as they were called in those days. Bly details how she had to act "insane" so that the authorities would send her to Blackwell's Island. Further, she recounts the conditions that the women had to endure once committed. It's chilling in its details especially when you know that they would never be free again. Many of the women were not "crazy" but either sick, poor, or spoke foreign languages. The doctors who examined the women and determined their state of mind used ridiculous tests. Bly would tell them she was not crazy, and asked them how could they determine someone's mental state by looking at their tongues and in their eyes. The food they were given was disgusting, ice cold baths, no warm clothing, and uncomfortable beds and benches which they had to sit on for hours. It was just a horrific time when women could be sent to such places by judges after being arrested by the police. At least with the printing of her investigative reporting in the newspapers, 1,000,000 per year was reportedly allotted to the asylum to provide better living conditions to the women and reforms were made. Expect the writing to be of the time, but entirely engaging and vivid.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shirley (stampartiste)

    What a brave and daring job of investigative reporting Nellie Bly (pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochran) undertook in 1887 to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York City! To think this type of medical "science" was going on in the middle of one of the world's largest cities in an age of supposed "enlightenment". The sad truth is that the treatment of disturbed individuals didn't really improve for almost another century. But tha What a brave and daring job of investigative reporting Nellie Bly (pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochran) undertook in 1887 to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York City! To think this type of medical "science" was going on in the middle of one of the world's largest cities in an age of supposed "enlightenment". The sad truth is that the treatment of disturbed individuals didn't really improve for almost another century. But thanks to Nellie Bly, the horrific "diagnosis" and "treatment" of the unfortunate women who found themselves confined to this facility were exposed by Bly's infiltration there. Bly was truly a courageous woman who was not afraid of breaking barriers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Myrna

    Very interesting. Wish it were longer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Oblomov

    Nellie 'The Most Interesting Woman in The World' Bly was asked to get herself sectioned for the sake of investigative journalism. The utter Madlass does and describes how 1880s mental health care was absolutely sodding dreadful, as I expected, but how much so still managed to leave me surprised. To begin, Bly has to get herself declared insane. She could have asked a doctor friend to sign her off to the authorities but, not wanting to incrimate anyone else, Bly instead reinvents herself as a lone Nellie 'The Most Interesting Woman in The World' Bly was asked to get herself sectioned for the sake of investigative journalism. The utter Madlass does and describes how 1880s mental health care was absolutely sodding dreadful, as I expected, but how much so still managed to leave me surprised. To begin, Bly has to get herself declared insane. She could have asked a doctor friend to sign her off to the authorities but, not wanting to incrimate anyone else, Bly instead reinvents herself as a lone stranger, finds cheap rooms at a boarding house for working women and plans to act 'mad'. Not to shy away from highlighting poverty while she's at it, Bly doesn't skimp on the details of her God awful lodgings, with the rooms filthy, vermin infested and overcrowded. Once there, Bly's acts of supposed insanity are rather mild, as she whispers that others look crazy, feigns amnesia and insomnia and generally looks a bit sad. These small acts are enough to disturb the shit out of her neighbours, who beg for her to be removed and one woman even has a nightmare about Bly trying to stab her. The immediate reaction to Bly's presence is to assume the worst possible violence and to get rid of her, and only a single woman in the house actually cares for the seemingly vulnerable outsider. Taken to the police for the crime of making everyone feel miserable, the actual 'diagnosis' of Bly begins, with judges and police quickly assuming madness, while doctors seemingly dismiss her as mad or are too preoccupied trying to shag a nurse to give her a full examination (this actually happens), and it is with little difficulty that Bly is boated over to Blackwell Island, with no one openly explaining to her what is happening, assuming her too mad to notice. At her destination, Bly discovers the medical facility is less a hospital and more an actual prison. The women are forced to sit for hours with no stimulation or activities, or to stand in freezing temperatures with inadequate clothing while waiting for inedible food, and the staff regularly beat or psychologically abuse their charges with an abominable glee. The patients recieve no help at all for their mental states in any form, but the conditions cause everyone to deteriorate both mentally and physically. Others appear to share Bly's misdiagnosis, including a German woman who spoke no English, and although one Nurse can spricht deutsch, she refuses to translate for the important reason of not being arsed (I'm not kidding). Bly goes into more harrowing detail and while I felt relieved at her final release, I felt more enraged that several women who were literally at risk of literally bloody dying because of their poor treatment would be left behind. Bly ends her tale with a revisit to Blackwell after the publication of her tell-all article, now escorted by inspectors, and finds the facilities somewhat improved but her old friends still at death's door. She feels pride that the state provided a lot more money to mental institutions, but resource was only ever half the issue, with the other being care givers who simply don't care. Extra dollars to Blackwell Island, staffed by its monsters, would only likely pay for better Nurse's wards and maybe some token games for the inmates, but it wouldn't have improved the staff's hositility or the doctor's inattention, so it seemed one hollow victory. 'Have things improved in the mental health field?' is the question most likely to cross your mind after reading the likes of Bly's exposé, and the answer is certainly yes when in comparison to Blackwell Island (and depending on the country you live in), but perhaps things haven't changed enough. In the 1970s, there was the Willowbrook scandal which showed similar harrowing conditions and also the Rosenhan Experiment, where a psychologist (Rosenhan) enlisted several volunteers to copy Bly's ruse by pretending to hear voices. All were quickly institutionalised and found it impossible to convince the doctors they were fine, despite no longer showing signs of the schizophrenia they were diagnosed with. Later, Rosenhan warned the hospitals he'd repeat the experiment, daring them to catch his psuedo-patients, and the doctors reported they had identified every single fake. That triumphant boast was cut short by Rosenhan announcing he'd sent no one, meaning tens of people were denied mental health care. Even as recent as the 2010s we had the Winterbourne View scandal in the UK, a home for autistic children where staff were filmed openly abusing and bullying their charges for the sheer 'fun' of it. The NHS report on the incident and 'how we can improve' review included the telling lines: 'better accountability is needed' (i.e it's just a few bad apples who were missed) and 'an unacceptably high number of people with learning disabilities and autism are being kept in hospital facilities on a long-term basis' (i.e, we've got too many to deal with because their family can't/won't care for them). The apathy of strained care workers and the irrational fear that people with mental illnesses must be Norman Bates or are being deliberate nuisances, remains, I am acutely aware, a problem for today as it had for Bly. Is it as systematically bad as Blackwell? Of course not (depending on where you live), but if I take anything from Ten Days, it's that I'm both obviously glad to be on my magic tablets rather than getting a life sentence in an abusive hell hole, and somewhat saddened that over 100 years later I recognise a little too much of the 'sane's' reaction to those who need help. My edition also included two extra Bly articles. In the first she tried to get a job as a maid, but failed because the agencies she applied to were either suspect as all hell or suffocating, sardine tin rooms of other desperate hopefuls. The second is about the life of factories workers, with the incredibly unbiased and not at all critical title of 'As a White Slave: Her Experience in the Role of a New York Shop-Girl Making Paper Boxes' Both are fascinating reads and a neat little window to the utter bullshit a working girl of New York had to deal with. In all the book gave me lot to think about and made me bloody miserable. Five stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    "Positively demented," he said. "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where some one will take care of her." "Are you crazy?" I asked. "No," she replied; "but as we have been sent here we will have to be quiet until we find some means of escape." "Miss Grupe proved to be one of those people who are ashamed of their nationality, and she refused, saying she could understand but few worlds of her mother tongue." "A German girl, Louise–I have forgotten her last name–did not eat for "Positively demented," he said. "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where some one will take care of her." "Are you crazy?" I asked. "No," she replied; "but as we have been sent here we will have to be quiet until we find some means of escape." "Miss Grupe proved to be one of those people who are ashamed of their nationality, and she refused, saying she could understand but few worlds of her mother tongue." "A German girl, Louise–I have forgotten her last name–did not eat for several days and at last one morning she was missing." "Nearly all night long I listened to a woman cry about the cold and beg for God to let her die." "For ten days I had been one of them. Foolishly enough, it seemed intensely selfish to leave them to their sufferings. I felt a Quixotic desire to help them by sympathy and presence. But only for a moment. The bars were down and freedom was sweeter to me than ever." Quite an actress! She faked insanity and the experts got fooled. She was pronounced insane and institutionalized in an insane house for 10 terrible [insane!] days. What she saw and experienced was enough to denounce the horrendous conditions those interned lived in/under. So, it paid off. Conditions changed. Her true name was Elisabeth Cochran. A sane Journalist. True still, if you entered that house being insane, you would get insaner.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Nellie Bly is an investigative journalist and an extraordinary lady, who faked her own mental ill-health and was institutionalised for ten days. This allowed her a behind-the-scenes analysis of the state of bedlam during the late 19th century and to publish this account of her time there. The tone was straight-forward and almost conversational throughout and whilst I hold an immense amount of respect for Bly and the trauma she went through, this did read a little unemotionally because of that. I Nellie Bly is an investigative journalist and an extraordinary lady, who faked her own mental ill-health and was institutionalised for ten days. This allowed her a behind-the-scenes analysis of the state of bedlam during the late 19th century and to publish this account of her time there. The tone was straight-forward and almost conversational throughout and whilst I hold an immense amount of respect for Bly and the trauma she went through, this did read a little unemotionally because of that. I understand, however, that the purpose of this account is to educate and not for enjoyment and I have certainly garnered a better understanding of both the treatment of the 'insane' and Bly herself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Perry Whitford

    What a brave woman! In 1887 desperate for work journalist Nellie Bly, real name Elizabeth Jane Cochran, agreed to feign madness and spend ten days in Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, exposing the atrocious conditions that then existed in such institutions. She fooled all the doctors easily merely by acting scared and confused, claiming to be from Cuba and wittering on about some imaginary lost luggage. She swiftly discovered that 'no doctor could tell whether people were insane or not, so long as What a brave woman! In 1887 desperate for work journalist Nellie Bly, real name Elizabeth Jane Cochran, agreed to feign madness and spend ten days in Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, exposing the atrocious conditions that then existed in such institutions. She fooled all the doctors easily merely by acting scared and confused, claiming to be from Cuba and wittering on about some imaginary lost luggage. She swiftly discovered that 'no doctor could tell whether people were insane or not, so long as the case was not violent.' True enough, many of the women being detained there were no more insane than Bly herself, being instead merely nervous or sick, or in same cases foreigners unable to express themselves or understand that they were being committed before it was too late: 'The insane asylum on Blackwell's Island is a human rat-trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out.' And not in the least bit pleasant either. Cold baths, hard beds, terrible food ('horrible messes'), inattentive doctors more interested in flirting with the nurses, and completely unsympathetic, not to say downright cruel female staff. They teased and tormented the inmates, beat and even choked them. Hell, they even drowned them! When they complain to the doctors their stories were written off as delusional, then they received worse beatings. I knew something of Nellie Bly before, having read her book about travelling the world in the footsteps of Phileas Fog, Around the World in Seventy Two Days. I enjoyed that and this book only further proved that what she lacked in prose she more than made up for in pluck. Like all the best investigate journalism the articles which were compiled together to make this book actually caused a stir and made a difference.

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