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Prescription Book - Kew Lunatic Asylum, circa 1930 Document Reg. No: SH 850025

Pharmacist's prescription book for drugs dispensed to patients at Kew Lunatic Asylum, a mental health hospital in Victoria, Australia, from 19 Dec 1908 to 18 July 1951. Gives name of patient, date and contents of prescription. Written in ink.

A number of early psychiatric drugs were employed in the management of psychiatric symptoms, and occasionally as a form of chemical restraint, at Kew Asylum. These included chloral hydrate, a popular sedative prescribed to induce narcosis, potassium bromide, for its anti-convulsant and sedative effects, Laudanum (liquid opium) or opium "grains", morphine for its sedative and analgesic properties, and often brandy was given to ameliorate a broad variety of complaints.

Meanwhile, even into the early twentieth century some psychiatrists continued to subscribe to a form of the ancient humoural theory of medicine and often prescribed purgatives or laxatives. Humoral medicine is a theory of the workings of the human body that equates the four bodily ?humours? of blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile with the four natural elements of fire, water, air and earth, where an excess or deficiency of one or more humours was seen as the cause of an illness. The correction of this imbalance would restore the patient's health and was achieved by the adminsitration of laxatives such as cod liver oil, castor oil or croton oil, and purgatives or emetics such as apomorphine which would cause vomiting to the point of exhaustion, after which the manic patient would be able to achieve the rest they needed.
Tall, thin, lined notebook covered in blue oilcloth with brown leather spine. End-papers in maroon, blue and cream in abstract design. Spine worn.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Kew Mental Hospital (Asylum)
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 40.00 cm (Height), 6.00 cm (Width), 17.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: log books, mental health, mental health institutions, pharmacy equipment, psychiatric hospitals, making history - psych services, psychiatric services, medicines, psychiatric institutions, medicinals drugs, drugs
Themes this item is part of: Psychiatric Services Collection, Medicine in Society Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MEDICINE & HEALTH
Secondary Classification: Mental Health - Nursing
Tertiary Classification: pharmaceuticals
Place & Date Used: Kew Mental Hospital (Asylum), Kew, Victoria, Australia, circa 1930
References: Information in exhibit.


Elizabeth McMillan Posted on 02 Dec 2009 10:38 PM
My mother's aunt was in the Kew Mental Asylum dying in there in 1936 and my mother never knew what was wrong with her. She used to visit her Aunt Alice Margaret (McCALLUM) with her mother (Alice's sister) and never noted any signs that Alice was unwell. Is there a way to find out what was wrong with Alice or what mediation she was given or why she should have been in there all that time. I hope you can assist me. Regards, Libby
Discovery Centre Posted on 02 Jan 2010 10:30 AM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Elizabeth,

Patient records for Kew Asylum are held by the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) - click on the link below to view the PROVGuide 59: Education, Health & Welfare - Mental Health Records. This guide provides information about the types of mental health records held at PROV, and from here you can follow the link to records from Kew Asylum/Hospital for the Insane/Mental/Psychiatric Hospital. Only a selection of records are available to view online, however you can contact PROV directly concerning non-digitised records.
I hope you find this information useful.

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