Hermann Mesmer : An Astounding Development For Mental Health

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Although Franz Mesmer was labeled as a fraud, he provided a basis for later psychoanalytic techniques such as hypnotism. As research of mental illness developed, mental disorders were classified as psychological illnesses instead of physiological illnesses. In light of this, physicians created ways to test the brain for mental illness: cranial capacity research and phrenology.
Figure 1. Cranial capacity research - credit: Dr. Stanley B. Burns
Figure 1. shows Dr. John Shaw Billings photographing a skull that is plunged under a tank of water to gauge its cranial capacity, which was thought to detect mental illness. Billings and his apprentice had to perform the procedure quickly because the skull would absorbed too much water if it was
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The abundance of scientific accomplishments in Great Britain catalyzed a movement of treatment and asylum reform. In the nineteenth century Great Britain, numerous social acts were performed with the intention of reforming asylum and medical treatment standards. Before asylums existed, lunatics either roamed the streets for shelter or were confined to the basements and cellars of their shamed family. This was before there was any form of social order. In 1247, St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital opened just outside of London, which was devoted to treating sickly paupers. In 1547, Henry VIII founded Bethlehem hospital was to be transformed into the first specialized mental health hospital. The institution received the label “Bedlam” because of their horrible reputation of drastic living conditions and inhumane treatment to their patients, such as putting their violent patients up for display and throwing their gentler patients on the street to become beggars. Up until the eighteenth century, the primary use of asylums were to lock away the mentally ill dispose of society’s nuisances. Even though it was royally declared a mental institution in 1547, it was not until the eighteenth century that hospital services for the insane began to be seriously provided and even then, the quality of care was
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