History And Overview Of Insane Asylums

2182 words - 9 pages

For many decades the mentally ill or insane have been hated, shunned, and discriminated against by the world. They have been thrown into cruel facilities, said to help cure their mental illnesses, where they were tortured, treated unfairly, and given belittling names such as retards, insane, demons, and psychos. However, reformers such as Dorothea Dix thought differently of these people and sought to help them instead. She saw the inhumanity in these facilities known as insane asylums or mental institutions, and showed the world the evil that wandered inside these asylums. Although movements have been made to improve conditions in insane asylums, and were said to help and treat the mentally ill, these brutally abusive places were full of disease and disorder, and were more like concentration camps similar to those in Europe during WWII than hospitals.
Like the majority of the world, people in the United States did not support the mental institutions necessary for the insane to be properly cared for. For example, the federal government of the United States wanted no part in funding and supporting these institutions, and left that power to the states. The state governments often times neglected the asylums and would not fund them, leaving the unfunded asylums without resources or money. Dorothea Dix, a reformer of the 1800s, saw what the state and federal governments were doing to these poor mentally ill people and made several movements to improve living conditions and better the funding towards maintenance and treatment in these mental institutions. After she showed the citizens of the United States the torture they were putting the mentally ill through, large protests against the government spread nationwide. The government heard the cries of the people and on December 30, 1848, the senate passed a bill that “spelled out the needs, and requirements for a state institution for the mentally ill and requested $100,000 – a huge sum in those days – to finance the project” (History of Dorothea Dix Hospital 1). The states abided to this bill for only a short time. Soon after, the people of the United States reverted back to their old ways of insulting the mentally ill and conditions in mental institutions worsened. Funding was again cut and mental institutions did not have the proper doctors needed for treatment. Also, smaller asylums or institutions were shut down, and the patients were moved to other asylums where there was overcrowding and a severe need for staff. Hospitals of this nature were created to treat the insane, but they were frond upon by society, and had little to no financial funding leaving them poorly staffed and equipped for treatment and care (Maisel 1). This was typical for these wards. Due to these conditions, overcrowded asylums would soon run out of supplies and were forced to make do with what they had for treatment, and attendants who did not know how to care for these types of patients treated them with the least amount of...

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