How were the mentally ill treated in hospital in the twentieth century? At first with fresh air and bromide and then with brain surgery, electric shocks and deep sleep amnesia. After the mid-century the chemical revolution produced increasingly effective drugs. Mental therapies advanced treatment further so that by the century’s end most patients were treated in the community. Now, like other former asylums, the Mid Wales hospital lies empty, a ruined monument to how we used to treat the mentally ill.

The design on the cover needs some explanation. My wife (Margaret Percy) took the photograph from the ruins of Ward 7 looking out of the window. The glass has gone, the frame is covered with ivy and tangled roots. It reminded us of the  vast network  of neurons that connect the human brain, though dark and twisted; hence a symbol for mental illness.

Life ‘Up Top’ is told here for the first time, based on the memories of staff and patients and archive collections.