Essay On Mental Asylums

902 Words4 Pages
People often see mental illness as a unique and modern phenomenon, but the reality is chemical, physical, and genetic influences have been causing illnesses since the conception of human existence. Mental disorders affect one in every four people and have done so for a very long time. The treatments for people with mental health concerns are what have crucially undergone radical transformation throughout the course of time. The first mental asylums can be traced back nearly 19 centuries ago in remote, foreign countries, but before there were intuitions and places for the sick to reside, families who had members suffering from mental health disorders were under obligation to keep their sick relatives amongst them in their own homes. Whether…show more content…
This century was an era where specialized institutions for the mentally ill were undergoing explosive growth. Accompanying the greater access and rapid expansion, people who had mental illnesses were placed in institutions that were complete luxury compared to living conditions in earlier times. With greater access now available to facilities, it was in the 19th century overcrowding became a profound issue and people were abusing the system. The definition of insanity became corrupt and was toxic for most communities. If a family was unable to financially support a member or care for their well being, the family would then send the “ill” away to a mental institution so they were no longer burdened with the responsibility. Once overcrowding began, asylums developed a negative connotation and no longer represented the great place they once were for healing (Whitaker, 2009). In addition, people were not only living like prisoners but also expected to endure procedural rules allowing their illnesses to be treated in ways that were unusual in comparison to the treatments we have…show more content…
These types of treatment took patients from inappropriate environments and allowed them to submerge in clean, healthier living, and were offered a better lifestyle in order to be cured. In keeping faithful to this ideal, the York Retreat was a pleasant country house, modeled on a domestic lifestyle, that allowed patients to live, work, and rest in a warm and religious environment that emphasized mildness, reason, and humanity (Butcher 38, Porter 103-104). The York Retreat is an example of one welcoming establishment, but there were many more to come after this movement and “moral treatments” were the newly founded basis of treatments. Asylums then deemed chaining and other restrictions inhumane and no longer used restraining mechanisms for treatment, but only to protect their patients from themselves or from others. The newer approach included phrenology, facial expression analysis, cranial photography, and skull measurements as a large influence in 19th century mental health treatments. These methods involved shape, size, capacity, and observation of the cranium. Also, extensive facial feature analysis took account for meticulous details that were supposedly capable of implicating mental illnesses. The 19th century has long surpassed the earlier understanding that lodging mental patients in loony-bins,
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