As the introduction to “Life in the Asylum” notes, the brief article, presented as diary entries, appeared in _The Opal_, a literary journal written and edited by patients in the New York State Lunatic Asylum in Utica during the 1850s. What would the doctors and administrators have thought of this article? Does it seem like good or bad publicity? My guess is that few pieces would have passed into publication without the awareness of those managing the institution, but it’s hard to know how fully they would have controlled the content. The concentrated display of literary “refinement” from the author and other “ladies” gathered for literary endeavors present the asylum and patients in it as highly cultured, far from the poor or working class. The genteel Christianity evident throughout only enhances the image of propriety, delicacy, and manners. Even the diction describing music played and sung by a fellow patient in the parlor oozes good taste: “We wander on, drawn by the strains of music, and we enter the parlor door, to be regaled by the sweet songstress seated there.” Who really says “We” when she means “I”? “Strains of music” and “Sweet songstress” are a bit over the top. All of this would have played well with politicians who raised taxes to fund the institution, so at least this opening part of the “diary,” with its depiction of a certain kind of population being treated, would have been welcomed by those in charge, even if the patient population was by no means dominated by the sort of woman depicted here. What do others think?