British Pathé, the vintage news organisation, have released all of their archive online including some fascinating newsreels on psychiatric institutions of times past.
On of the points of the film is to report on the hospital following accusations, common at the time, that people were admitted to the institution despite having ‘nothing wrong with them’ and that patients were subject to harsh treatment.
You can read about the controversy in this 1957 Spectator article that talks about the classic and still relevant tension in forensic mental health services between treatment and legal sanction.
Both the film and the article mention the case of Marie Mayo, who was sent to the hospital due to an ‘administrative error’ causing a significant scandal. One of the other Pathé films is a brief report on her release and return home.
There was widespread public concern at the time that psychiatric institutions were randomly locking people up and that residents were subject to abuse.
The Inside Rampton! film is the first wave of serious concern that subsequently led to Enoch Powell’s ‘water tower’ speech and the political moves to bring down the asylum system, as well as the anti-psychiatry movement and its push for a radical approach to mental distress.