Understanding of Mental Illness Since the 1900s

Topics: Psychiatry, Mental disorder, Patient Pages: 3 (744 words) Published: November 22, 2008
The understanding of mental illness today since the early 1900s has changed significantly. In the 1900s, people still had no real understanding of what caused mental illnesses, let alone how to treat the disease. The disease was feared and was seen as incurable. Mentally ill patients would be sent to asylums, and as a form of treatment they were tortured. Until in the later 1900s, it was discovered that certain factors and drug therapy could be a treatment to cure the mentally ill. Today there are various forms of treatment and treatment settings for the different mental illnesses that help to benefit the patients’ condition.

During the 1900s people viewed mental illness as a disease of individual weakness or a spiritual disease, in which the mentally ill were sent to asylums. This was a temporary solution in hope to remove “lunatics” from the community. This caused a severe overcrowding, which led to a decline in patient care and reviving the old procedures and medical treatments. Early treatments to cure mental illness were really forms of torture. Asylums used wrist and ankle restraints, ice water baths, shock machines, straightjackets, electro-convulsive therapy, even branding patients, and the notorious lobotomy and “bleeding practice”. These early treatments seen some improvement in patients, although today this eras method of handling the mentally ill is considered barbaric, the majority of people were content because the “lunatics” were no longer visible in society.

In the mid-1900s, the discovery of psychological and drug methods had a rapid succession as a form of treatment and created a decline of patients in asylums. Psychiatrists of this era worked in the asylums practicing “moral treatment” or “moral management”, a humane approach at quieting mental turmoil, this then replaced the often-cruel treatment that then prevailed. This treatment was also based on the belief that the environment was a vital role. Replacing shackles, chains and cement...
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