Insane Asylums In The 18th Century

465 Words2 Pages

How patients with mental disabilities’ treatment has changed over the years is drastic, and deserves to be noted. In the past, the patients were treated very poorly. According the Szasz, it was once believed that mental illness was caused by demonic possession, witchcraft, or an angry god. For example, in medieval times, odd behaviors were a sign that the person was possessed by demons. From the 1400s to the 1600s, a common belief sustained by religious organizations was that some people made pacts with the devil and committed terrible acts, such as eating babies. By the 18th century, people who were considered odd or unusual were placed in asylums. According to Merriam Webster, an asylum is defined as “an institution providing care and protection …show more content…

In the 17th century, Dorothy Dix led efforts to transform mental health care in the United States. She investigated how the mentally ill were cared for, and was mortified by what she found out. So, she pushed various state legislatures and U.S. Congress for change. After that, the first mental asylum was created in the United States. Despite the efforts, the asylum was often filthy, offered little treatment to patients, and kept people for long periods of times, sometimes even decades. As quoted in Nellie Bly’s “10 Days in a Madhouse,” Nellie stated “The insane asylums on Blackwell’s Island is a human rat-trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out.” Conditions like these were common until well into the 20th century. In the 1999 movie Girl, Interrupted which takes place in the 1960’s, the main character Susanna Kaysen, was suicidal and because she did not have a set plan for her future, she got placed in Claymoore, a mental institution. Then in 1963, Congress and president John F. Kennedy passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Construction Act. The act provided federal support and funding for local mental health

Open Document