Asylums in Massachusetts: McLean and Northampton

Topics: Psychiatry, Psychiatric hospital, Mental disorder Pages: 10 (3566 words) Published: December 4, 2011
Asylums such as The McLean Asylum for the Insane located in Boston, The Worcester Lunatic Asylum, and The Northampton Lunatic Hospital have been around for many years. Since the 1800s through the 1950s asylums have drastically changed in appearance, treatment, diagnosis and many aspects of the asylum such as the food patients are given to eat, and what work the patients get to do while being treated. The grounds and buildings of asylums have made significant improvements. Treatment has become more moral and orderly as the decades progress. Each asylum has different forms of recreation and work that the patients are allowed to do while being treated in the early asylums.

Asylum Changes in Massachusetts
The main and earliest asylums in Massachusetts in order include the McLean Asylum for the Insane located in Boston, The Worcester Lunatic Asylum, and The Northampton Lunatic Hospital. McLean Asylum for the Insane was founded in 1818 originally located in Somerville, then moved to Belmont, Massachusetts. In 1895. It is famous for its groundbreaking neuroscience research and for the large number of famous people who have been treated there such as Ray Charles and James Taylor. This asylum was the first psychiatric hospital In the U.S to make sure it had basic clinical laboratories. The hospital studied biological factors in mental illness patients. The McLean Asylum was also a division of the Massachusetts General Hospital and followed the Quaker principles of moral treatment. The Worcester Lunatic Asylum was founded in 1832 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was the first of its kind in Massachusetts. During the first year that it was opened 164 patients were received. The Northampton Lunatic Hospital was founded in 1858 and located in Northampton, Massachusetts. This hospital was later added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Northampton Lunatic Hospital and Worcester Lunatic Asylum were both part of the Kirkbride Plan. This plan was a 19th century building style that was put into effect for many asylums. There have been many improvements since the 1800’s until the 1950’s in buildings and grounds, diagnoses, demographics including leisure, work, food, and patient treatment in all of these asylums in Massachusetts. Previous to the 1800s, patients suffering from mental illness were hidden and housed in jails before asylums. Benjamin Rush, also known as “The Father of American Psychiatry.” contributed a great amount to the treatment of patients. Patients were restrained to Benjamin Rush chairs; His treatment methods also included bleeding, purging, and hot and cold baths. (Ozarin, L, 2006). 1800s:

Buildings & Grounds
The Worcester Lunatic Asylum consists of a center building and two wings, the basement is designed for storerooms, a kitchen and laundry room. Pipes have been laid for water supply. The buildings were plain, strong and made of brick with a zinc roof. The buildings had separate apartments for patients, which were warmed in winter and highly ventilated. They had rooms for tenants as well as cooking establishments. For the grounds, excavation and stoning for the cellar done as well as construction of a road. High fences were put up to separate the different yards. (Massachusetts General Court Senate, 1837). Recreation

Patients are encouraged to take exercise in the farms available in the grounds for them. They are allowed to roam in the carpenters’ shop, walk in the gardens, take excursions, and participate in in-door games as well as other forms of entertainment. (American Psychiatric Association, 1895). Treatment

Bloodletting was not always used in treating the insane patients (American Psychiatric Association, 1895). At the Worcester Lunatic Asylum, In terms of system of treatment, employees of the asylum need to pay special attention to cleanliness, bodily health of patients, clean air and suitable diet. Moral treatment was used and...
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