Kathleen King- Materio
All communities contain a mentally ill population. Their behavior is considered to be inappropriate and abnormal. Every society has cultivated solutions in which to treat the mentally ill in order to prevent disruption of the strong civil function. Normal behavior varies through generations and societies. When deciding if a person is mentally ill, the generation and culture must be taken into consideration. Approximately 26 percent of the U.S. population suffers from mental illness, with six percent of that percentage suffering from such debilitating mental afflictions that their ability to function is limited. The History of Mental Illness
In ancient times, mental illness was thought to be madness caused by demonic possession. Skulls of the “mad” were drilled to allow the demon to escape. During the middle ages, mental illness was believed to be the result of witchcraft and demonic control. The tormented were treated as criminals and subject to torturous acts. They were often tied up and thrown into bitterly cold waters. If the person floated, they were considered to be a witch and were murdered in an inhumane and heinous manner. If the suspected sunk, they were found not guilty of witchcraft. The freezing water was accepted as a cure for “madness.” By the mid 1700’s, mental illness was considered an issue for the afflicted’s family. As the American colonies grew, the mentally ill began to negatively impact the society. Almshouses were used to board the mentally ill. Specialized hospitals were constructed for the “insane.” Mistreatment and abuse of the mentally ill were common and continued through the 19th century. “Moral treatment” of the mentally ill began in the 18th century when Phillipe Pinel discovered 5,000 patients chained to walls and released them. Dorthea Dix was a U.S. social activist who made an appeal to the Massachusetts State...
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