Hiding in plain sight. Cultures of harm in residential institutions for long-term adult care, Britain 1945 to 1980s    


  • Dr Louise Hide

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

During the 1970s and early 1980s, 18 major investigations were conducted into abuse and neglect in long-stay psychiatric hospitals. These inquiries focused on administrative and management failures, and gave little attention to the underlying values and belief systems, such as attitudes to pain, suffering, institutionalisation and care, that gave rise to abusive practices, or to the language and behaviours that perpetuated them. 

I will return to the extensive documentation from two of these inquiries, together with other sources, to gain deeper insights into the underlying factors that gave rise to institutional abuse to help prevent it in the future. 

I will publish my findings and present workshops to inform current inquiries, policy makers, clinicians and social scientists with valuable historical context about abuse, while introducing a new strand of inquiry into historical scholarship. Engagement with the wider public is vital and I will contribute opinion pieces for the wider media and write at least one theatre or radio play.