Mental Illness

1143 Words3 Pages

The name The name of my book is Mental Illness by Gilda Berger. Mental illness is a disorder characterized by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, emotions, or behavior. The term mental illness can refer to a wide variety of disorders, ranging from those that cause mild distress to those that severely impair a person’s ability to function. Today, mental illness is considered to range from such ideas as eating disorders to personality disorders.
Mental illnesses have been reported as far back as to 4000-5000 years ago. The reason scientists believe that mental illness has existed this long is due to anthropologists finding skulls with holes gashed in them. These skulls look very similar to skulls that have had the process of trepanning performed on them. The process of trepanning is simply the surgical procedure of creating a hole in the skull. Scientists believe that this procedure was done in order to let out the evil spirits which doctors thought possessed the mentally ill of this time. The literature of ancient Greece also contains evidence of the belief that evil spirits or demons controlled the mentally ill. Not only the Greeks believed in the evil spirit theory, writings from the early Babylonian, Egyptian, and Chinese civilizations have also shown evidence that mental illness was believed to be a possession by demons-using beatings, restraint, and starvation to try to drive out the evil spirits.
These beliefs somewhat cooled down as time continued to move on, but once again popped up as America was starting to be formed. In 1692 and 1693 the Salem witchcraft trials began. At this point in time mental illness was suggested to be associated with the devil, so those with mental illnesses were thought to be witches. Those who were thought to be witches were given unfair trials and quick death penalties. Many innocent people who simply had a mental disorder were burned at the stake because of the lack of knowledge about this natural disorder. As time moved on, people saw that the mentally ill were not possessed, but that they were simply sick. Rather than kill all of the mentally ill, society decided it would be better to lock them away in a place that would be safe for them which was away from other people. One of the first and most notorious institutions was Bethlehem Hospital. Although Bedlam was founded on high principles it was soon noted as being wild, crowded, noisy, and filthy.

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