In this podcast and the next four, we’re going to look at what patients made of entering and being in what we call mental hospitals and what were known until 1930 as lunatic asylums. The podcasts are about life in the institutions which dominated care of the insane and mentally impaired from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. The first extract shows why we seldom hear the voice of those who were institutionalised: asylums were highly regulated and authoritarian, not only for patients, but also for staff. The regulations show how closed many public asylums were. This was the day-to-day existence of about 100,000 asylum inmates in a British population of 36 million; by 1900 there were over 100 asylums whose average size was nearly 1,000. The average length of stay ran to several years because asylums increasingly filled up with chronic cases.