BOOK: Silverdale Secrets of an Asylum
AUTHOR: DON TALBOT
AVAILABLE: Mary Ryan's, Dymocks, the TRC Visitor Information Centre, James St, some newsagencies
THE idea of being committed to an insane asylum would be one of the most frightening scenarios I could ever imagine.
Don Talbot's new book Silverdale Secrets of an Asylum reveals the shocking truth of what went on behind closed doors in Australian asylums in the 19th century.
Not all inmates were mentally ill.
Wives or mistresses were "hidden" away and others locked up by uncaring families or husbands.
Among the very first guardians in Silverdale were the local police wardens who had no training but knew how to dish out harsh treatment to inmates who misbehaved.
This book shines a light on what went on.
Why do inmates die from strangulation, hanging, poisoning and jumping from roofs rather than put up with treatment?
Why is a doctor murdered and why is an asylum chaplain stabbed?
And why does a young woman die after being given wrong medication?
Mail to and from inmates goes missing, personal possessions are ransacked, visitors are unwelcome and at times inmates are hidden within the system.
Silverdale Secrets of an Asylum moves speedily through the workings of the institution with insights into the lives of the medical practitioners, other staff, and the men and women incarcerated at that time.
There is quite a bit of humour and a great love story.
In short, it is a ripping yarn.
Silverdale is one place I would not like to spend a night in.
Thank goodness that we have moved forward and have stricter guidelines to assist people with mental illness to receive treatment and not be abused.