Nellie Bly fakes insanity to do first hand research of insane asylums

Nellie Bly

Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, better known as Nellie Bly, was a journalist who in 1887 faked insanity to do first hand research of insane asylums.

Speaking of her experience, she said, “What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment?…I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.”

She published Ten Days in a Mad-House, which would help drive change in NYC insane asylums.