Whispers of madness.

White walls, empty Halls

Echoes of silenced pain and lives put on eternal hold.

Unmarried asylum seekers in days of old

Imprisoned indefinitely to save their souls.


Families wanted them hidden away

To arrest society’s decay

Often damaged not decadent

Guilty of innocence rather than indolence.


Incest often lead to childbirth and illegitimacy

They were declared insane because of forced intimacy

What madness masqueraded within

When authority had power and victims powerless remained?


©Alison Jean Hankinson

I am putting this into d’Verse open link night. I wrote it last year when I reflected on how things had changed so much in terms of attitudes to mental health. These women were often asylum seekers and deserved better than they got.

I have been working this year with families and carers in crisis, who have a loved one experiencing psychosis and Bi-polar.

Image- Woman In A Psychiatric Ward With Two Dolls. Stock Photo, Picture in public domain.






Author: alisonhankinson

Walking tall whenever I can.

25 thoughts on “Whispers of madness.”

    1. We had a lot of asylums most were gradually dismantled in the 1980’s onwards following the Mental Health act 1983. This poem was based on my memories of visiting Calderstones whilst supporting adults back into the community, where it became clear that many of the longer term female residents had been sectioned for giving birth out of wedlock. The memory stayed with me.


  1. Sad disturbing image. Sad and disturbing poem. It is true that children/adults were often hidden out of sight. Often by wealthy relatives wanting their money. So sad. Heartbreakng. Thank you for this poem Allison.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Disturbing and so unjustified. I think today some women still are imprisoned by their past. They (we) just carry it inside now. What an incredible photo to go with your poem. Where did you find it?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The photo mirrors the verse well and a time when hopelessness was the end of those who found life in the asylum. No psych meds, no shock therapy, no therapeutic abilities at all. No wonder people were so excited at the thought of the coming of something called a lobotmy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t imagine those anguished times for the women and children ~ I am thankful that today at least we have a better appreciation and advancement of women’s rights and mental health initiatives ~ Thanks for this ~

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We still haven’t figured out what to do with humans who need help to survive, both physically and mentally. In America we often just put them in prison, especially if they are poor. Where do we start to right the wrongs? (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a powerful image and powerful post. I’m reminded of the book I read about the Kennedy daughter, the lobotomy given to her…and then her placement in a home. Certainly the wealth allowed for a better place for her and caretakers….but still. It is the “putting away” …..
    Powerful post.


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