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Change Minds Online 2022: Frederick Robert Fogden by Amelia True

FF photo

A photograph of Frederick Robert Fogden from the casebooks covering 1888 admissions

Frederick was only 15 years old when he was admitted to the Bethlem.

He had been working as an indoor servant for Lord Kensington at St Brides, Pembrokeshire. He told the doctors that the Head Butler was most unkind to him. He returned from service and was taken to Westminster Hospital the following day, where he remained until his parents had him admitted to the Bethlem.

The admitting doctors observed him as melancholic and incoherant, believing himself to be the famous London murderer, Charles Peace, that his food was poisoned and made of cats and dogs. He tells staff that he has been very wicked and believes he is about to be burnt and hung.

Frederick is said to be "educated above his station in life" and is categorized as having ‘partial dementia’. In the 1880’s partial dementia was used to describe people considered to have a weakened mind but with remaining intelligence.

During his time at the Bethlem Frederick was observed being helpful within the ward, as he improved he was sent to Whitley Convalescent Home (now the 6th form centre for King Edwards School of Whitley)

On returning to the Bethlem he was discharged ‘recovered’ in June 1888. He returned home to live with his parents, Charles and Rebecca, 2 younger sisters and 3 older brothers in Fulham, Middlesex, London.

His father was a retired police officer but had grown up in Beckenham and worked at the Bethlem Lunatic Asylum 1857-1859 as an assistant cook.

I chose to research Frederick because of how young he was on admission. I was curious whether the admission would be a one off and he would remain 'recovered' or if he continued to have his life impacted by his mental health. I was also uncertain whether information would be available for me to learn this.

When I began researching it first seemed as if Frederick's story was an example of hope during a time when medications and talking therapies weren't available.

I found that in 1891 Frederick was working as a drapers porter whilst living at home with his parents and younger siblings. Then in 1894, aged 20, Frederick recorded as joining the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consorts own service no. 3064.)

In 1901 Frederick was receiving out-relief whilst working as a gardener and boarding with the Timson family in Kingston. Whether the out-relief was due to his military experience or his mental health challenges, I was unable to find out.

For my creative response please go to https://museumofthemind.org.uk...