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The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880$
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Wendy Gonaver

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648446

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648446.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 November 2021

As the Eagle to the Sparrow

As the Eagle to the Sparrow

Enslaved Attendants and Caregiving

(p.51) Chapter Two As the Eagle to the Sparrow
The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880

Wendy Gonaver

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the lives of the enslaved men and women who worked at the Eastern Lunatic Asylum, particularly their interactions with patients and administrators. Enslaved attendants were tasked with arduous labor; enslaved women were assigned the most menial jobs. They were also entrusted with significant authority; some were even authorized to seize and forcibly medicate patients when moral methods failed. Dorothea Dix and other asylum reformers criticized the asylum for its reliance on slave labor because they didn’t believe slaves were capable of providing moral treatment. Despite the challenges of institutional caregiving, enslaved attendants used their influence to assert their capacity for moral judgment. The actions of asylum slaves suggest that an ethic empathic equality rooted in Afro-Christianity was central to their conception of care.

Keywords:   caregiving, ethic, slavery, Afro-Christianity, asylum patients, attendants, moral treatment, moral methods, Dorothea Dix, menial labor

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