Mad Bet and her sisters
Penny L Richards over at Temple University's Disability Studies Blog has a nice full-of-info blog posting about 19th century women considered to be "mad" -- that is, "crazy". It seems to be a societal effort to shut them up as much as anything.
The women are friendless, in the sense of having no one with any power who can help them. They have husbands, but the husbands are part of the effort to see madness in every quirk.
Read the post here. There are even (this being an academic site) references!!