Changes In psychiatric Treatment
Psychiatric treatment is an ancient practice that dates back to around 5000 BCE as evidenced by the location of skulls that showed signs of trepanning. In ancient world cultures, trepanning was a renowned method for treating mental illnesses, which the early man believed to arise due supernatural influences such as sorcery and demons. This method employed a procedure whereby the psychiatrist used a stone to make an opening (trephine) in the patient’s skull. Creating a trephine was suppose to provide a way out for the evil spirits inside the patient’s head, and which were responsible for signs and symptoms exhibited by the mentally ill. Trepanning, despite its brutal and sometimes fatal outcomes, remained a preferable method of psychiatric treatment over several decades with the adoption of more sophisticate means of creating a trephine such saws and drills (Rgarnett par.5). Apart from trepanning, there was the use of a combination of magic and religious rituals, which psychiatrists used to eliminate demonic possession. Thus, psychiatric patients underwent gruesome procedures of exorcism, incantations, prayers and rituals meant to drive out evil spirits. Sometimes, when the magic-religious ritual failed to work, people would attempt to appeal to the spirits using means such as bribery. As human civilization progressed, logical means of psychiatric treatment emerged. Egyptian doctors began recommending psychiatric patients to engage in activities such as dancing and painting, which doctors identified to have significant impacts in relieving most of the signs and symptoms of mental illness and restoring normalcy among patients. Transformation in psychiatric treatment towards a more pragmatic approach began with Hippocrates’ assertions that sought to discredit the notion that mental illnesses originated from supernatural sources. In his studies, Hippocrates identified the source of psychiatric problems as natural occurrences that altered the normally functioning of the human body, especially the brain. Hippocrates’s findings formed the basis of Galen’s concept describing blood, phlegm, bile and black bile as the four essential fluids of the human body that had to remain in equilibrium for the vital body organs and systems to function effectively. In this regard, doctors came up with a myriad of prescriptions such laxatives and black hellebore, and procedures such as using leeches to bleed psychiatric patients to restore equilibrium in the body (Illes 218). Furthermore, doctors recommended certain diets comprising of foods such as salad greens and milk to restore mental health. Research shows that responsibilities regarding care and custody for psychiatric patients were largely a family issue. In this regard, although patients sought the intervention of doctors, there were no medical facilities established to cater for psychiatric patients. The stigma associated with mental illness often led to various forms of abuse against the mentally ill making their co-existence with health members of the society considerably difficult. Such occurrences were evident even in societies dominated by mainstream religions such Christianity. Family members of psychiatric patients hid them in cellars or caged them in pigpens to avoid the shame associate with mental illnesses. In some cases, families opted to abandon mentally ill members turning them into beggars. Mental disorders that increase tendency to social disorder and violence exposed psychiatric patient to conflicts with laws and often led to their imprisonment for extreme cases of social disorder. Unorthodox means of treating mentally ill patients led to burgeoning of psychiatric patients throughout the world. In this regard, concerned parties started establishing institutions known as madhouses to cater for the mentally ill. These institutions, run by the clergy, clearly illustrated the need for humane treatment of the mentally...
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