The British Journal of Psychiatry
The functions of asylum.
J K Wing


Many of the functions of large psychiatric hospitals were those of asylum. As the structure of services has changed and the role of the large hospital has diminished, the necessity to continue to cover their functions has tended to be forgotten, partly because it has been thought that, even at best, they were purely protective. Such a point of view cannot be sustained. The functions of asylum have always been both refuge and recuperation. 'Community care' will come to deserve the odium now attached to the worst practices of former times if the tradition of asylum practised in the best of the large hospitals is not (with appropriate modification) acknowledged, properly placed in the psychiatric curriculum, and given high priority in service planning.