16 Creepy Mugshots of 1800’s Insane Asylum Patients

Before insane asylums were built, the bulk of care for the mentally ill rested squarely on the shoulders’ of the patient’s family and relatives. If they were lucky that is, many were simply homeless and were on their own. Mental institutions became more common in the 1600s and 1700s. In the 1700s, William Tuke, a Quaker businessman, began advocating for less physical restraints to be used on patients. Others soon came to support more gentle ways of caring for mentally ill patients as well. In the 19th and 20th centuries, asylum construction boomed.

Below, you will find portraits of patients and their various diagnoses for the West Riding Asylum in England. Read on for more history of mental health institutions from their very crude, often cruel beginnings.

Diagnosis: Chronic mania.


Essentially this diagnosis meant the patient was in a state of constant agitation. Insane asylums used fun terms for their patients.