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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Asylum \A*sy"lum\, n.; pl. E. Asylums, L. Asyla. [L. asylum, Gr. ?, fr. ? exempt from spoliation, inviolable; 'a priv. + ? right of seizure.]

  1. A sanctuary or place of refuge and protection, where criminals and debtors found shelter, and from which they could not be forcibly taken without sacrilege.

    So sacred was the church to some, that it had the right of an asylum or sanctuary.

    Note: The name was anciently given to temples, altars, statues of the gods, and the like. In later times Christian churches were regarded as asylums in the same sense.

  2. Any place of retreat and security.

    Earth has no other asylum for them than its own cold bosom.

  3. An institution for the protection or relief of some class of destitute, unfortunate, or afflicted persons; as, an asylum for the aged, for the blind, or for the insane; a lunatic asylum; an orphan asylum.


n. (plural of asylum English)

Asylums (book)

Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates is a 1961 book by sociologist Erving Goffman. Asylums was a key text in the development of deinstitutionalization. The book is one of the first sociological examinations of the social situation of mental patients, the hospital. Based on his participant observation field work, the book details Goffman's theory of the " total institution" (principally in the example he gives, as the title of the book indicates, mental institutions) and the process by which it takes efforts to maintain predictable and regular behavior on the part of both "guard" and "captor," suggesting that many of the features of such institutions serve the ritual function of ensuring that both classes of people know their function and social role, in other words of " institutionalizing" them.

Usage examples of "asylums".

The churches swapped inmates with the bordellos and the asylums eventually gained from both.

In this time of practical charity, they are poor substitutes for those hospitals and orphan asylums which were practically unknown in Japan until the advent of Christianity.

He told them that steps would be taken immediately to free his serfs and that till then they were not to be overburdened with labor, women while nursing their babies were not to be sent to work, assistance was to be given to the serfs, punishments were to be admonitory and not corporal, and hospitals, asylums, and schools were to be established on all the estates.

Continuing to represent the liberation of the serfs as impracticable, he arranged for the erection of large buildings schools, hospitals, and asylums on all the estates before the master arrived.

He had lost count of the asylums visited up to now and the task was rapidly becoming too much for him.

Costermongers, hawkers, and pedlars, a class of workers who live from hand to mouth more than those of any other class, form the highest percentage of those in the lunatic asylums.

And the results will be surprising, for prisons will be less numerous, workhouses, casual wards and asylums less necessary, lazar houses with their pestilential breath will pass away, and England will be happier, sweeter and more free!

I have seen patients in asylums who, believing in their exalted position, have recounted their successes in about the same vein as Marat.

For example, at Lyons, "The Asylums having been deprived of sisters of charity during years II.

Forbes Winslow, a flamboyant physician and amateur detective who believed the killer to be a homicidal maniac goaded on by a religious mania, suggested having wardens from lunatic asylums patrolling with the police since they would be much more likely to recognize such tendencies in an individual.

For one thing, Swanson turned out to be wrong on one critical fact: Kosminski did not die shortly after the murders, but actually lived in asylums until 1919!

Knowing that the Polish Jew description from Anderson was more reliable than the name, Fido exhaustively checked the records of all the prisons and insane asylums in the area.

Those, we have crucified, or burned at the stake, or shot with silver bullets and buried in garlic, or incarcerated in asylums.