It could have been ill treatment by husband, imaginary
female trouble, hysteria, immoral life
or laziness, marriage of son, masturbation and syphilis,
medicine to prevent conception, menstrual deranged,
Or even novel reading, nymphomania, opium habit,
over action of the mind, over study of religion, overtaxing
Possibly her parents were real cousins, periodical fits,
political excitement, fits and desertion of husband, asthma,
bloody flux, brain fever, congestion of brain.
Even death of sons in war, domestic affliction,
domestic trouble, epilepsy, fever and jealousy,
suppressed masturbation, suppressed menses,
time of life.
Or uterine derangement, venereal excesses, vicious vices,
women’s troubles, superstition, smallpox, snuff eating
for two years, spinal irritation.
It could have been gathering in the head, greediness, grief,
hard study, rumor of husband’s murder, seduction
and disappointment, self abuse, sexual derangement.
Or in the end, just false confinement, feebleness
of intellect, female disease, dissipation of nerves,
that made them take Grandma away.
Source: admissions to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane (Weston) aka Trans- Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, late – 1800s