Thora Hands: Treating the mad, the bad and the drunk: Medical institutional responses to the problems of inebriety in Scotland c.1897-1914

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Location: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
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The Inebriates Acts of 1879 and 1898 resulted in the introduction of institutional ‘solutions’ to the problems of drug and alcohol addiction in Britain. The concept of inebriety was deployed within voluntary and compulsory medical institutions in order to target and control the behaviour of individuals and social groups. This paper examines Scottish medical responses to the Inebriates Acts using case studies of the State Inebriate Reformatory at Perth, Invernith Lodge Retreat and the Chrichton Royal Asylum. These contrasting case studies reveal that institutional treatment reflected different medical and political interests rather than a specific inebriate reform agenda. In late Victorian and early Edwardian Scotland, the concept of inebriety was used to confine the mad, the bad and the drunk within institutions that provided
medical treatment and moral reform for deviant behaviour. This established a framework for medical and political intervention in substance use that has lasting implications for alcohol policy in present day Scotland.
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