‘Prisoners or Patients?’ provides an insight into historic penal policies and the infancy of psychiatry, revealing the stories of people – occasionally dangerous, often vulnerable but always severely disturbed – who experienced mental health problems and impairments in the most extreme circumstances.
The exhibition examines how those labelled at the time as criminal lunatics and afflicted by mental health issues were treated and recorded in the Victorian era. As such, it uses historical medical and social terminology and references the practices of that time.
For centuries mental illness and impairment have touched the lives of people regardless of background, sex or circumstance. This exhibition tells their story and aims to raise awareness of continuing mental health issues, inside and outside of prisons today.