'Insane criminals' and the 'criminally insane': criminal asylums in Norway, 1895-1940
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHistory of Psychiatry. 2017, 28 (2), 209-224. 10.1177/0957154X17691004
This article looks into the establishment and development of two criminal asylums in Norway. Influenced by international psychiatry and a European reorientation of penal law, the country chose to institutionalize insane criminals and criminally insane in separate asylums. Norway’s first criminal asylum was opened in 1895, and a second in 1923, both in Trondheim. Both asylums quickly filled up with patients who often stayed for many years, and some for their entire lives. The official aim of these asylums was to confine and treat dangerous and disruptive lunatics. Goffman postulates that total institutions typically fall short of their official aims. This study examines records of the patients who were admitted to the two Trondheim asylums, in order to see if the official aims were achieved.