|Part of an entry in a Goodna Asylum case book|
Reasons for the onset of mental illness (as stated in case books) include childbirth, epilepsy, head injury, alcohol, syphilis, congenital defect, jealousy, 'domestic troubles', bereavement, and 'deserted by the father of her child'.
Goodna Asylum case books often give the patient's admission date, discharge or death date, age, marital status, number of children (and age of the youngest), occupation, country of birth, residence, religion, mental disorder and its onset, changes in behaviour and general health, and a physical description. Some entries include names of 'insane relatives' (here or overseas), references to time spent in other asylums, or comments such as 'good bowler at cricket'. For some patients there are letters or photographs.
For patients transferred on 10 Jan 1865 from the Lunatic Asylum, Brisbane, to Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum, case books also give the date of first admission. Until Woogaroo Asylum opened in 1865, psychiatric patients were treated at the old convict hospital, and in some cases there are references in prison records.
Information from case books has traditionally been available only to close relatives in special circumstances via Right to Information - but I have details from case books for some patients admitted more than one hundred years ago. To help family historians, I have indexed those names (and many others). I have also created a mini-guide, Researching Mental Asylum Patients.
Note that case books are completely different from Public Curator insanity files, which are much easier to obtain and potentially even more useful for family history.
If you need help to get copies of historical records for Queensland mental asylum patients, follow this link. Each page with a list of names has details of my research and copying services.