Nellie Bly: Ten Days in a Mad-House


Nellie Bly was a journalist, born Elizabeth Cochrane in 1864.  Bly was her pen name.  She was a ground-breaking reporter and a pioneer in her field, not only for female journalists, but for investigative journalism.  She covered many stories relative to her time, including her personal trip round the world which bested the fictional Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.  You can read about her work in more detail here.

One of her writings relates specifically to psychology.  In 1887, Bly went to her editor with a strange request.  She wanted to be admitted to an asylum.  This was no small task.  In order for this investigation to be a success, Bly would need to be so believable that a doctor would declare her insane and admit her to the institution.

Not only was she successful, but her report was in such high demand that they published it in book form.  In addition, a grand jury launched an investigation into the conditions of the asylum, which resulted in an $850,000 increase in funds to care for the mentally ill.

You can read Nellie Bly’s complete account of her time in the asylum here, along with a couple of other articles.


In class we discussed the Milgram Experiment, a social psychology experiment. After you view the experiment, share your thoughts below. How do you think you would have responded in a similar situation?

You might also consider this question, which was raised during class last week: Do you think the participants would have reacted the same if the “student” was a woman?


Sexual Deviation: Necrophilia

Sexual Deviation, or paraphilia, is intense sexual arousal to highly atypical, or unusual, objects, situations, or individuals.  In some cases this behavior may be illegal.  There are many different types of paraphilias.

Necrophilia, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is “the presence, over a period of at least six months, of recurrent and intense urges and sexually arousing fantasies involving corpses which…have been markedly distressing.”  

Necrophilia is discussed as far back as Ancient Egypt, where deceased women were left to decay before given to the embalmers in order to discourage intercourse with the corpse.  In another culture, there was a belief that the soul of a young unmarried woman would not find peace in the afterlife.  In order to give peace to her soul, a marriage ceremony was arranged, which involved intercourse with the corpse.  In ancient Peru, it was considered a means of communication with the deceased.  

There are many suggested causes for necrophilia, including

  • poor self-esteem, perhaps due to significant loss
  • fear of rejection, therefore a desire for a sexual object who is incapable of rejection
  • fear of the dead, therefore transforms fear of the dead into a desire
  • develops exciting fantasy of sex with a corpse, sometimes after exposure to a corpse

Despite these commonly held beliefs about the cause of necrophilia,  Katherine Ramsland interviewed necrophiles who disagreed with this theory.  You can find more information from her research in her book, Cemetery Stories.

The most prominent article published on Necrophilia was written by Jonathan P. Rosman, MD and Phillip J. Resnick, MD.  This article is often referenced when Necrophilia is discussed.

Due to the fact that there are not many cases of successful, or even unsuccessful, treatment of Necrophilia, it is difficult to conclude what types of treatment are helpful.  Necrophiles often keep their sexual desires quite secretive.  So, unless the act causes the individual distress, they are unlikely to seek treatment.  Another reason one might come to treatment is if one is charged and ordered into treatment.  

What are your thoughts on Necrophilia?



Delayed Response

Sorry for the long absence.  My goal was to update this blog every week, but with winter months come the sniffles.  Winter Break was wonderful, but with it came an awful stomach bug, and now we all have colds.  Needless to say, I’m a bit behind.  Over the weekend, I will be working on several posts based on requested topics.  If you have a request, feel free to post it in the comments below.  You can expect to see the newest topic posted as soon as Saturday!


Hope you have a wonderful weekend!



Welcome to the Psychology blog! If you are interested in Psychology, I will be regularly posting article reviews, links to websites, and suggestions for books or videos that relate to all areas of Psychology. If there is a particular topic that interests you, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments below.

I will try to update this blog at least once a week.

-Mrs. W.