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Umönnun geðfatlaðra er hluti af menningarsögu allra samfélaga og er umönnun geðfatlaðra á Íslandi þar engin undantekning. Eru hún umfjöllunarefni þessarar ritgerðar. Er hún í formi frumgagnarannsóknar, sem unnin er upp úr hluta af gagnagrunni manntala, sem gerður er á vegum Þjóðskjalasafns Íslands og dr. Ólafar Garðarsdóttur sagnfræðings, fyrir verkefni sem kallast North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP). Er sagt frá þeim einstaklingum sem skráðir voru með einhvers konar geðfötlun í manntali teknu árið 1880 á Vesturlandi. Voru athugasemdir á borð við geðveikur eða fábjáni það sem greindi þessa einstaklinga frá öðrum.
Á Vesturlandi árið 1880 voru skráðir í manntal sautján einstaklingar með andlega fötlun – ellefur konur og sex karlar. Er talsverður kynjamunur á heimilisaðstæðum geðrænt fatlaðra. Karlar bjuggu frekar á heimilum ættingja sinna en konum var frekar komið fyrir á heimilum annarra. Bjuggu geðfatlaðar konur t.d. sem niðursetningar, tökukönur eða sem vinnukonur.
Aldur geðfatlaðra er ákveðin breyta sem hefur áhrif á þann mun sem er á heimilsaðstæðum þeirra, þar sem konur á þessum tíma urðu eldri en karlar. Einnig er sú hugmyndafræði sem ríkti um kynhlutverk á 19. öld áhrifavaldur á þessar niðurstöður.
Every cultural society at every time is under the influence of its health and diseases. Diseases play a vital role in people lives, regarding how and by whom they are treated as in what way they affect social institutions. Diseases are historically, anthropologically and culturally relevant and can give important informations about the way of living in the societies of the world.
This BA assignment is an experimental work with a data base that has been in work under the arrangement of the State Archive in Iceland and dr. Ólöf Garðarsdóttir, historian. This is a part of a project called North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP), which is collaborate work with Canada, Great-Britain, Iceland, Norway and U.S.A. This project aims to make all informations from existing census from those participating countries available as electric data and in that way create an accessible data base with informations about more than 90 million people.
The assignment is a research based on source documents, which documents are gained from the work with NAPP. It is based on census in Iceland from the 19th century – to be exact, the census from 1880 in West part of Iceland - where illnesses were regularly noted in a specific remark box. The reason this part of the country and this exact year was selected lies in the fact that the author worked herself with the typing for the data base and took responsibility for filling in informations from this specific part of cencus. The remark about mental illness gave people a public state as a patient, bound in census. Individuals that had a note in the census about some mental illnesses in the West part of Iceland in the year 1880 were the major subjects. The notes were for example mentally ill (geðveikur), idiot (fábjáni), insane (vitskertur) or crazy (vitstola) and notes like these was what indicated their situation, both in the home and as an Icelandic citizen at that time. Meaning of those concepts has changed through time, for example the concept idiot (fábjáni) refers now to someone who is behaving in a childish on un-orthodox way, without being mentally ill. While working with these census, those concepts struck the author, for they sounded inappropriate.
In the census of 1880 in the West part of Iceland, 54 individuals had some notifications about their healt, physically and mentally. Seventeen individuals of those 54 were listed with some mental illness – eleven women and six men. They lived at different kind of homes, with different families and their official status, according to the census varied also. The results turned out to have a gender biased conditions for those individuals, especially regarding their home. Four of five men lived with their families and only one woman of eleven. Men lived with their relatives but women were placed with strangers. Some of those women were paupers, others given to foster families, still other were labourers. Because of the poverty in Iceland in the 18th century all families couldn´t provide their sick relatives. People had to seek help and assistance from the state or the province and sometimes that help included dissolving families. The ratio of paupers in the year 1870 was 12% in Iceland. One man of those five mentally ill in the West part of Iceland 1880 was registerd as a pauper and five of the eleven women. The discourse at this time about gender roles was quite different from our times and according to the Icelandic laws in the 19th century, the government of the house belonged to men, they were the face and in control of the family, women were "behind the scenes“, taking care of the children and food. The law had great influence on the discourse of gender roles and reflects the conditions of the mentally ill, in gender comparison. For example women in Iceland didn´t get eligibility to vote equal to men until 1920. Age is also a possible relevant variable regarding those results, because at that time women got older than men. According to the sources women with mental illness in the West part of Iceland were relatively older than the men – no man was above 59 years old but the women were 3 that were older than 59, oldest one 80 years old. Three boys were from the age of 1 to 14, two women. Those reflects the way in which age differs as well amongst those people. In that way it is established that gender is not the only variable affecting the difference in the conditions for those mentally ill individuals, but other as well.
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