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Mental Illness

By juicyeee Jun 08, 2013 1291 Words
History of Mental Health Services

The topic I chose to write about is Mental Health. I feel like now a day’s mental health is a BIG issue with all these people killing the innocent and themselves. Mental Health has been over looked for so long and now it’s starting its true horrific nature. We have come very far from the practices and services used 10000 years ago. Still with all the technology and medicine there a lot of people that do not get the help they need. This day in age a person is given a “happy” pill to help with their mental state but back then the way they dealt with this issue is barbaric. I am going to take you back in time and let you know on how they use to treat mental health before prescription drugs were in place. Early man believed that having mental health problems were caused by evil spirits or a person being possessed by the devil or demonic being. One of the services they would use back then was called trephining. During these procedures a whole would be chipped into the skull using a stone instrument. They believed by opening a small piece of the skull the evil spirit would be released and cure the person. These attempts to treat mental illness go back to 5000 BCE (Porter 10). This procedure was used for centuries, even for other medical problems like skull fractures and migraines. A lot even believed that mental illness was a punishment of GOD for committing sin. Ancient Hebrews and Persians believed that by good health people would prevent and protect people from diseases including mental illness. This included adequate hygiene and purity of the mind and body achieved through good deeds and thoughts (Alexander 20-22). In all of these ancient civilizations mental illness was always thought to be brought upon some evil phenomenon. Prayer and exorcisms were used as well to free these evils demons inside the head of these sick people. Around 400 BC Greek physician Hippocrates believed that mental illness was a disorder of physiology not a curse or and evil spirit of some kind. He suggested that it came from some type of imbalance in the human body and in the brain. After this was established they took a new approach to treating mental illness in the middle ages. In order to bring the body back into equilibrium, patients were given emetics, laxative and were bled using leeches or cupping (MacDonald, 1981). The care of these sick people was left up to their family members and was helped with some type of outside help. The first mental hospital was established in 792 CE Baghdad and was soon followed by Aleppo Damascus—mass establishment of asylums and institutionalization took place much later, though (Butcher 32). The majority of these mentally sick patients were abused by family members. They were ashamed of their sickness and kept in cages or in places where no one could see them. Through the Middle Ages and until the mass establishment of asylums, treatments for mental illness were offered by humanistic physicians, medical astrologers, apothecaries, and folk or traditional healers (MacDonald 175). Mental illness was something that was beginning to increase as time went on. Asylums were starting to be established around the world. The first institution to open its doors in Europe is thought to be the Valencia mental hospital in Spain, 1406 CE (Butcher 36). Not much is known about what treatment patients were given here but asylums in general were known to abuse patients and have them living in deplorable living conditions. For years these places were really a way of keeping these sick people locked up and hidden. They were most likely abandoned by their families or being punished for some crime they committed due to their sickness. These places never really helped the sick get better or find a way for them to become normal or live a normal life. After so many years of this cruelty the conditions of these asylums began to improve in the mid 1800’s. A new movement called mental hygiene which focused solely on a patient’s physical health and ignored their psychological behavior. Significant advances in psychological concepts after the mass establishment of asylums did not arise until the development of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud in the late 1800s to early 1900s. He believed that through talking to the patient and listening to whatever they had to say was more effective than what was being used in asylums. The introduction of psychopharmacology is one of the most significant and successful contributions to mental illness treatment, although it did lead to a movement that has been devastating to mental health care systems around the world, especially in the United States. In the 1980s, it was estimated that one-third of all homeless individuals in America were considered severely mentally ill. A 1992 survey reported that 7.2 percent of the inmate population was “overtly and seriously mentally ill;” over one-fourth of that population was being detained without charges until beds became available in one of the country’s few remaining mental hospitals (“Timeline”). Psychotropic medication has additionally allowed individuals to avoid directly confronting their mental health issues, for example through counseling. I fell like counseling helps get to the core of the problem instead of drowning it in medicine. A lot of people when they come of these pills are more depressed and angry than what they were before getting on them. This is the problem today because so many people don’t talk about what they are going thru and just keep it bottled up. Look at all these tragedies that have happened with mentally ill people killing the innocent and themselves. Everyone wants to investigate these issues after the fact instead of taking care of them before anything bad happens. I think it’s easier for a doctor to give a patient a pill instead of talking to them or looking for some other alternatives than just medicine. Insurance companies don’t and won’t pay for intense help of these patients. They are quicker to pay for medication than to pay for a mentally sick person to get talk therapy or be kept until mentally stable. Of course most mental care facilities will not keep a patient of they are not going to be paid for it. A lot of these people are admitted then given a prescription and sent home even after they see how ill the patient is. I feel like there should be some type of communication between law enforcement and psychiatric professionals to check the status on dangerous patients. When a person has committed a violent act more than once this should already be a red flag that something is wrong and should be followed up on. Although much advancement has been made throughout the years in this field of study that has helped many mentally ill people there is much room for improvement. Psychiatry and psychology are amazingly effective disciplines, when properly given. And it doesn’t even have to cost billions of dollars to do that.

Works Cited

Porter, Roy. Madness: A brief History. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2002

Alexander, Franz G., and Sheldon T. Selesnick. The History of Psychiatry: An Evaluation of Psychiatric Thought and Practice from Prehistoric Times to the Present. New York City: harper and Row, Publishers, 1966 MacDonald, Michael. Mystical Bedlam: Madness, Anxiety, and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England. New York City: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Butcher, James N., Susan Mineka, and Jill M. Hooley. Abnormal Psychology. Ed. Susan Hartman. 13th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. , 2007. "Timeline: Treatments for Mental Illness." American Experience - A Brilliant Madness: Timeline. 1992-2002. PBS. 6 Nov. 2007

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