The First World War and the LAI

As a centre with trained medical professionals, London Asylum for the Insane was approached by army recruiters and asked for volunteers. During the First World War many staff members enlisted which caused grief for the superintendent, Dr. William J. Robinson. At one point in the war, he complained that he was the only medically trained professional at the Asylum — his staff of doctors had all gone to war. As a result, Dr. Robinson was left to run the medical aspects of the Asylum on his own.

Patients at the London Asylum were involved in producing care packages and knitting socks for men at the Front. This activity served as a form of moral therapy and also allowed a sense of involvement in the War Effort. Patriotic fervor combined with the pressing need for supplies likely led to the involvement of patients in war work.

After the war, the London Asylum treated numerous veterans suffering from psychological problems caused by the war. Removed from the constant noise of the front lines, many veterans experienced nightmares, flashbacks, and other problems now associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Upon their return home, many veterans found that they had no one to relate to — their families and friends could not understand the horrors of war — and as a result, had a difficult time reintegrating into society. Even veterans who had not suffered from shell shock during the war found themselves affected several years after, once their lives had returned to a state of "normal."