Tuke's account of his visit to the Charenton (Hôpital Esquirol), Paris (1853)

Location: nr Paris, France

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 Charenton appears on pages 56-61.


'Charenton is modern and situated in the country, but is for the higher class of patients: it is much to be regretted however, that notwithstanding its situation, there is but a limited amount of land belonging to the institution…

There is neither in the Bicêtre nor the Salpetrière a single separate room without a bed, and otherwise prepared for a violent unrestrained patient. Nor did I see one at Charenton… If a patient is camisoled, then fastened into a chair such as I saw at Charenton, and then placed in his bedroom, he is certainly secluded; but it is not the seclusion of an English asylum where non-restraint is practiced…

I found a very considerable number restrained by the camisole at Salpetrière, Bicêtre, and Charenton. Some of these were also confined by straps, to a chair. At Charenton I saw in one room - three women sitting in coercion chairs, fastened to them, and camisoled. But although a large number were restrained by such means in the Parisian asylums, I believe there is a considerable amount of attention paid to the patients - to their comfort, care, and cure.'