Rights information: Copyright: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
Straitjacket from Ticehurst House, former private asylum.
A straitjacket is a restraint device used from the late 18th Century until the mid-1960s in asylums and mental hospitals to contain patients or inmates as they were previously known in asylums. The design originated in France and was said to be invented by an upholsterer named Guilleret, who supplied Bicêtre Hospital. The straitjacket was intended to be a more humane method of management than the iron manacles, belts, ropes, and chains which had previously been used.
The large asylums, unfortunately, were often understaffed, with poorly trained attendants and ineffective treatments. In the absence of better facilities, the straitjacket became overused and, in some circumstances, became a form of punishment, threat, and abuse. In this setting, the strait jacket became symbolic of the darker histories of psychiatry and was abolished in the 20th Century.