Rosalind Mitchison

  • Poverty and Welfare in Scotland 1890-1948 by Ian Levitt
    Edinburgh, 241 pp, £30.00, November 1988, ISBN 0 85224 558 0
  • The Retreat of Tuberculosis 1850-1950 by F.B. Smith
    Croom Helm, 271 pp, £25.00, January 1988, ISBN 0 7099 3383 5
  • Below the Magic Mountain: A Social History of Tuberculosis in 20th-century Britain by Linda Bryder
    Oxford, 298 pp, £30.00, April 1988, ISBN 0 19 822947 X

Anyone who has kept hens knows that these unattractive creatures make a point of brutality to any among them sick or weak. Some other ‘social’ animals share this antisocial tendency. The human species has a wide pattern of response to distress, but under the influence of moral or religious pressures, or of medical fancies, it is as capable as hens of behaving badly to those least able to withstand unkindness. The story of organised care and welfare includes a large number of instances of what intrinsically appear as policies of systematic mental or physical cruelty.

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