Bartonville Essay

3754 words - 16 pages

“Peoria State Hospital? What’s that? Oh is that the Bartonville Insane Asylum haunted house? That place is scary!” This is what pops into many people’s mind when they think of Peoria State Hospital. Peoria State Hospital, PSH, is not just a scary haunted house; it is a very important part of history. PSH was one of the first mental health facilities of its kind. Peoria State Hospital is considered a pioneer in the treatment of mentally ill patients due to the innovative treatment methods it used. PHS influenced mental healthcare not only in Illinois but across the entire United States as well. This facility became terribly downtrodden in its later years due to the launch of new local facilities and programs and the degradation of the buildings. Toward the end PSH was eerily similar to the hospitals they sought to replace. Peoria State Hospital marked a major turning point towards the improving of mental healthcare by helping people with and curing, their mental illness not only in Illinois, but in the entire country (Bittersweet).
Although Peoria State Hospital was a pioneer in mental healthcare, it was not the first hospital to try and treat patients. The treatment of mental health care had been going on for some time before PSH, but sending loved ones to one of these treatment centers was seen as a last resort. There were people in these hospitals, but most of the time the insane were either taken care of at home by family, housed in almshouses (houses for poor people) or they were sent to jail. In these places there was no treatment. The mental person, if violent, would be bound and or sedated heavily.
The treatments at the hospitals that specialized in curing the insane were often done for the benefit of the staff, not the patient. The techniques used were often grotesque and cruel. One treatment method that was particularly abusive was called the Lobotomy. This procedure was performed by cutting open the skull and cutting part of the brain and destroying some of the nerves there. Another form of the procedure was called the ice pick lobotomy. This procedure is pretty much the same as how it sounds. The surgeon would take two ice picks and insert one over each brow using a mallet. Once the ice picks were driven into the skull the doctor would take the picks and wiggle them back and forth in a windshield wiper type pattern again destroying the nerve connections. Other methods were not so violent such as the use of bondage. There were many types of bondage devices from your common straitjacket to chains and shackles. Restraining the patient was not the only form of therapy used. Treatment of mental illness can be traced back to the Stone Age where patients would be cured by having holes drilled into their head; this was supposed to release the demons causing the sickness. Other treatments include the usage of amulets and charms, herbs, bloodletting (removing patient’s blood for therapeutic purposes), and even punishment. All of these treatments...

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