Distinguishable Differences In Mental Institutions From The 1750's To Present Day

1651 words - 7 pages

A mental institution is designed to provide extensive care for those who suffer from various mental illnesses. In these institutions patients receive: therapy, various medicines, and other techniques designed to rid them of their illness or assist in alleviating the symptoms. 26.2% of adults aged 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, and they not only suffer from just one illness as 45% of those meet the criteria for two or more different disorders (NIH). In children ages 9 – 17, 21% of them have a mental or addictive disorder which causes at least some type of mental impairment, but only 20% of these cases are diagnosed and treated (NAMI). Half of all cases of mental illnesses began by the age of 14 (NAMI). These illnesses are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. There are a wide range of mental illnesses which include: depression, schizophrenia, autism, eating disorders, and a plethora of others. Medication combined with therapy can control these illnesses in most, but there are some disorders which may require short-term or long-term care in a facility. Historically, mental institutions mistreated patients until Clifford Beers published an autobiography which chronicled the deplorable acts he witnessed and fell victim to while he was institutionalized which led to the mental hygiene movement in America.
The stigma which mentally ill patients have received has greatly varied throughout the past centuries, and the way in which they were treated has changed. In 1752 the Quakers were the first to attempt to care for the mentally ill as a Pennsylvania placed rooms in the basements with shackles for these patients (NML). This is not a stable environment for patients, but it was the first attempt to accommodate these patients. In 1792 a New York Hospital established a ward which housed patients that were considered to have curable mental illnesses, and in 1808 a few blocks down a new facility was built for the treatment of mentally ill patients (NML). The first mental institution to open west of the Appalachian Mountain chain was established in Lexington, Kentucky under the name Eastern Lunatic Asylum, and to this day is still operating under the name Eastern State Hospital (NML). Though this hospital opened west of the Appalachian Mountains there were still many areas which needed a hospital established. There was not a publicly supported mental institution in every state until 1890 (NML). Benjamin Rush who has been noted as the “Father of American Psychology” wrote the first systematic textbook explaining mental disease, and had it published in 1812 (NML). His extensive research and knowledge he put into the textbook allowed it to undergo five editions in twenty-three years and was used for fifty years. Dorothea Dix became the next prominent advocate in the proper care for the mentally ill. After witnessing inhumane treatment of the mentally ill she became a public figure in rallying for the proper treatment of the ill,...

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