Tuke's account of his visit to Prague Asylum (1853)

Location: Prague, Austria

Following his travels in 1853, Daniel Hack Tuke described what he encountered in European asylums in his essay - 'The progressive changes which have taken place since the time of Pinel in the moral management of the insane, and the various contrivances which have been adopted instead of mechanical restraint', published in Rules and list of the present members of the Society for Improving the Condition of the Insane (London : Churchill, 1854). Tuke's description of the asylum in Prague appears on page 50.


'The asylum at Prague, built recently for curable patients, is an excellent establishment, and was planned and formerly superintended by Dr. Riedel. Dr. Köstle is the present director; he had 203 patients in this building, and in going through the wards, I observed three women confined to their beds by straps passing over the arms and under the body, in addition to the camisole. Three men were restrained, in a similar manner; one of these in an extremely excited and noisy condition. There was no reason to think that the instruments of restraint were so applied as to give actual pain to the patient. There are no restraint chairs in this asylum. Dr. Köstle employs depressants as ipecacuan in large doses, but neither employs the douche nor resorts to venesection. In addition to the curable establishment, there are five adjoining separate buildings used for patients of the incurable class.'

Asylum visited