UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Severalls Hospital: Interviews for 'Madness in its Place', 1913-1997

Title details

SN: 4890
Title: Severalls Hospital: Interviews for 'Madness in its Place', 1913-1997
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-4890-1
Depositor: Gittins, D., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Principal investigator(s): Gittins, D., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Sponsor(s): North East Essex Mental Health NHS Trust


The citation for this study is:

Gittins, D. (2007). Severalls Hospital: Interviews for 'Madness in its Place', 1913-1997. [data collection]. 2nd Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 4890,

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Subject Categories

Health services and medical care - Health
Medical history - History
Mental health - Health
Social attitudes and behaviour - Society and culture


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This study is available via the UK Data Service Qualibank, an online tool for browsing, searching and citing the content of selected qualitative data collections held at the UK Data Service.

This is a qualitative collection. This research is based on the life stories of patients and workers at a large psychiatric hospital in Essex and presents a social history of British psychiatric care in the twentieth century. The memories and narratives of patients and workers who lived, or were employed in Severalls Psychiatric Hospital provide a personal account of day-to-day life, contextualised both in relation to wider developments and issues in twentieth century mental health, and in relation to policies and changes in the hospital itself. Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative material, the research deals with key areas such as gender divisions, power relations, patterns of admission and discharge, treatments, and the daily lives and routines of patients and nurses on the wards.

A booklet produced to mark the Hospital's closure in 1997 featuring many contemporary and historical photographs is included (images 1-28). In addition a number of detailed plans of the estate have also been digitized (images 29-36). The latter have been scanned at high resolution to allow detailed study.

Main Topics:
Hospitals; hospital admissions; mental health; psychiatric treatment; medical treatment; doctors; nurses; patients; gender; everyday life; institutions; occupational life.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1913 - 1997
Dates of fieldwork: 1995 - 1997
Country: England
Geography: Colchester
Spatial units: No spatial unit
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual data
Individual (micro) level
In-depth/unstructured interview transcripts
Architectural plans.
Universe: Subnational
Past and present Severalls' staff and patients
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: Purposive selection/case studies
Number of units: 34; plus 56 image files
Method of data collection: Face-to-face interview; Compilation or synthesis of existing material
34 interviews with former workers and patients of Severalls hospital
Weighting: Not applicable

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 06 October 2004
Latest edition: 26 June 2007 (2nd Edition)
Copyright: Copyright D. Gittins
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. See terms and conditions of access for further information.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
Data list 4890datalist.xls 49
Unclassified 4890datalist_images.pdf 114
Unclassified 4890datalist_interviews.pdf 117
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_4890_Information.htm 6
READ File read4890.htm 3
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By principal investigator(s):
Gittins, D. (1998) Madness in its place : narratives of Severalls Hospital, 1913-1997, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16786-8.

Gittins, D. (1998) 'Silences : the case of a psychiatric hospital' IN M. Chamberlain and P. Thompson (eds.) Narrative and Genre, London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-15198-8. pp. 46-62

Gittins, D. (1996) 'Keep it in the family' Health Service Journal (July) pp.24-27

Resulting from secondary analysis:
Porter, R. (Presenter) (2001, March 03) Madness in its place [Radio broadcast] London: BBC Radio 4


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