Rosanna N. (149, 1905)

Rosanna N. (1863-1905)

The oldest of five siblings, Rosanna grew up in a Quaker farming family in Hendricks County. She was admitted to Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane (later Central State Hospital) in 1889 at the age of 25. Her brother reported that she suffered from sleeplessness and paranoia as well as outbursts of crying. He also claimed that she suffered from delusions that spirits would take hold of and control her and that she believed her soul and body were separated.

Rosanna was diagnosed with acute mania. At the time of her admission, this form of insanity was defined as “an exalted [or heightened] emotional state associated with a corresponding exaltation of other mental and nervous functions.” Symptoms could include extreme emotions, hallucinations and delusions, loss of inhibition, and animated physical movements.

Initially, doctors thought Rosanna’s acute mania was inherited from her parents. Her admission records marked her father as “insane” and her mother as “feeble-minded.” Unfortunately, the idea that mental illness was inherited and incurable was very common in the late 19th century and into the 20th century.

Rosanna remained at the hospital for 16 years. She passed away in 1905 after nearly a week of high temperature and  stomach pains. The autopsy attributed her death and symptoms to purulent meningitis.

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