To Expose the Truth of Mental Hospitals, Nellie Bly Feigned Insanity to Study One


In 1885 a young woman named Elizabeth Cochran
sent a letter to the editor of her hometown newspaper, The Pittsburgh Dispatch. She was
responding to a letter by a man that the paper had published earlier under the title, What
Girls Are Good For. This man, the father of five girls, had not so subtly implied the
answer: girls are good for birthing babies and tending to households. And he had even
evoked China’s then policy of killing girl babies as some kind of justification for an
act of mercy that would spare girls the drudgery of their destiny of being women in the world.
Young Elizabeth Cochran’s letter, it was a rebuttal, so impressed the editor that she
was hired as a reporter and she went on to become a trailblazing journalist that paved
the way for women in media. A couple of years later when she was only
23 she pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats of investigative journalism. She had
heard rumors of patient abuse in mental asylums and so she feigned insanity and checked herself
into the women’s lunatic asylum in Blackwell’s Island. There undercover she endured horrible
mistreatment and she barely got out to publish the expose under the title, Ten Days in a
Madhouse. It was an instant sensation, so much so that the public attention she brought
to the abuse and the horrific things that were happening to patients lead to a grand
jury investigation, in which Bly herself assisted. That produced a $1 million increase in the
budget for care for the mentally ill in New York City and forever changed their legal
protections. Another couple of years later, at that point
Bly is 25, the newspaper for which she worked began losing circulation and so she took matters
into our own hands and devised a publicity stunt that she thought would draw attention
back to the paper. It was kind of an honorable click bait; if there ever was such a thing
this was it, integrity at the risk of the journalist life. So she, inspired by Jules
Vern’s Eighty Days Around the World, decided to do a real life version of the journey packing
little or nothing more actually then a small duffel bag she managed to beat Vern’s fictional
journey by eight days and set the world record for the first fastest real life voyage around
the world in 72 days. In the novel Vern had written anything one man can imagine other
men can make real, and here was a woman who made it real, a woman who shaped the future
for women in journalism.

47 thoughts on “To Expose the Truth of Mental Hospitals, Nellie Bly Feigned Insanity to Study One

  1. wow that lady has such dedication to her research I'm a person with mental illness and the fact that she made her illness up I am not even offended because she did it for a great cause she's a really inspiring story we need more people dedicated to there jobs like she was

  2. People have to understand that when people say "man" they mean humanity, not men in most cases. Yes, women are strong, yes they are flawed, same goes for men you know why? Because men and women are part of humanity. Wish people would stop arguing over which one deserves more praise, it's the individual not the gender that deserves praise, such as Nellie Bly, the fact she was born a woman is coincidental, as it would be if she were a man.

  3. So in this they cheapened her work to bolster modern day feminism other then trying to bolster her work in mental healthcare?

  4. Nice to see some stuff on this channel with women involved that isn't a strange feelings monologue somehow disguised as science. Lucky there are as always lots of horrid troll men to make out this is some feminist manipulation into a bra- burning parade. I've got to stay the fuck away from these comments if I will be able to stomach much more of this channel. Bring on the abuse- confirm that all the men that are around that I avoid and won't talk to are abusive women haters crouched behind their computers because they are not strong enough to say such things to anybodies face.

  5. This didn't really happen – women were oppressed by the male patriarchy and wouldn't have allowed this.So you are trying to tell me that, even then, a woman could do all these things using her own free will and sense of determination? But that chips away a lot at the feminist narrative of history – oh my.

  6. Actually in her book, Bly says it wasn't very hard to pretend to be mad and be picked  up by the authorities and sent to the asylum.

  7. I had a long `big think about this one, and my conclusion is that feminism has truly infiltrated the internet, someone please help!

  8. As a therapist myself, I know of terrible clinical malpractices of patients even in much closer times all the way up to but not limited to 90's private institutions. Here is the active problem, because these institutions get very limitee and often times insufficent funding, many institutions don't simply have enough available resources to hire staff and treat patients conditions sufficiently. This often opens the door for clinical malpractice, not only in mental health but medical health institutions as well. The irony of the self-fulfilling prophesy is however, that the existence of malpractice is part of the reason for not being provided the resources needed in the first place.

  9. To bad instead of fixing the problem, it got made worse by closing down all the state run mental facilities. Now when you have a mental illness instead of getting treated, they wait until you mess up and put you in prison.

  10. China never had a "policy" of killing female children. To this day you cannot find out the sex of the child until it is born due to laws put in place to avoid citizens aborting female children.

  11. It's true. I've personally visited some psychiatric clinics and hospitals and 90% of them are beyond horrid. They are dirty, disgusting, filled with abhorrent and dickhead employees, and in general just suck.

  12. The title's a bit redundant. You could probably just call it "To Expose the Truth of Mental Hospitals, Nellie Bly Feigned Insanity"

  13. So when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon he was being incredibly sexist by saying "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"? F F S get over yourself he means "humanity"

  14. Oh god, not this woman again. The terrifying necklace has made it's appearance once again…

    Sorry, but I can't take anything she says seriously as long as she has that shit on. Just being aware of it's existence makes me sick, really, who designs these ugly looking trashes?

  15. Sound is a little strange on this one. It seems like it is too quiet so when I turn it up to compensate I can hear the little microphone blips crackles and a bit of white noise. Not much, but enough to be distracting.

  16. This was a great thing for her to do, but you know what they eventually did to the mentally ill. They got rid of the asylum system citing because there were some abuses the whole system was bad. Now 2 million some mentally ill people aren't getting treatment, most living on the streets and in homeless shelter. 1970s Deinstitutionalization is an end result of women's lib.

  17. She did not barely get out, her friends hired a lawyer and she was released immediately. Please no more sensationalistic journalism. Read her account for yourselves, its compelling.

  18. I got 5150'd for fighting with the cops. Even though I'm not crazy they locked me up in one of those mental hospitals. It was dangerous as fuck! The staff was so incompetent they literaly were putting THEMSELFS in danger. They had all these doors unlocked that went to off camera areas. A crazy person could grab a staff member by pushing them into one of these rooms and rape or beat the shit out of them. I had a crazy guy standing over my bed in the middle of the night saying some crazy shit about how I stole his soul. No staff member in sight anywhere. I had a bunch of creepy woman undressing in front of me being creeps. I was constantly being flashed their boobs and pussies. No joke, apparently I'm sexy to crazy people. They had us mixed in the same ward, males mixed with females. Gee, that couldn't go wrong. The staff was terrible and dangerous. I was so happy to get out of that place. My opinion on the whole situation was, WTF!!!!! Here I was not crazy locked up with a bunch of crazies just watching everything. What I would like to know is what happens to those people in there? Do they just keep them in there forever? Do the pills just take the people out? Most people I saw in there were pretty much beyond repair.

  19. Thank you for the insight into the movie I just saw. You explained everything very clearly. So happy that this outcome was so very positive. Just unimaginable things that happened. I love your necklace!!! Where was it purchased!?!?

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