Mental Retardation

Topics: Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Psychiatric hospital Pages: 3 (781 words) Published: April 19, 2011
How were mentally retarded people treated on the 1900s and how are they treated now? Back in the Middle Ages, insane asylums were created to take the mentally ill people off of the streets. But actually these asylums were in reality prisons and not treatment centers. They were filthy and dark and the inmates were chained. These mentally ill people were treated more like animals than human beings. Finally in 1792, at an asylum in Paris an experiment was conducted. The chains were removed from the inmates, and to the amazement of the skeptics of the time, the unchaining of these so called "animals" was a success. It was found that once the inmates were released from the chains, and put into clean, sunny rooms instead of dark, filthy dungeons, and treated kindly like a person and not a wild ferocious animal, many of these ill people who were considered hopelessly mad for years were able to leave the asylum as a result of their recovery. Most of the early treatments of trying to cure the mentally ill were really just forms of torture. In the early nineteenth century, English asylums used a rotating device in which the patient was twisted around at an extremely high speed. By the end of the nineteenth century, there was a new treatment that swung the patient around while he was in a harness to calm the nerves. Another early treatment consisted of branding a patient's head with a red hot iron. This was supposed to bring him to his senses. Then in 1905, the discovery of the syphilis spirochete(Syphilis is a disease caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete.) showed that there could be a physical cause for mental disorders. Soon Sigmund Freud came along and he and his followers showed that mental illness can be a function of environmental factors. But even after these alternative ways of viewing and understanding mental illness, along with the new scientific advances, the general public at this time period in the early 1900's still had no real...
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