History and Moral Development of Mental Health Treatment and Involuntary Commitment

10378 Words Dec 16th, 2005 42 Pages
History and Moral Development of Mental Health Treatment and Involuntary Commitment

The history of involuntary commitment has been developed and created through the history of mental illness and the constructs of society. Government policy has been created to treat mental illness and this philosophy of mental illness and its treatment goes as far back as Greek Mythology. The belief about mental illness has changed throughout history and at times thought to be due to, possession of demons, reversion to an animalistic level of consciousness, a sinful state of the soul, a chemical imbalance, and as reported recently in the medical journal Nature and Genetics, a defect in chromosome number six (at least as far as schizophrenia is
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Hamilton, 1971).
Hippocrates believed that mental illness had a physical and a rational explanation and rejected the views of his time that considered illness to be caused by superstitions and by possession of evil spirits. Additionally, he recommended that the treatment of mental illness should be conducted in an asylum, a secure and safe retreat from the chaos and pressures of the environment, rather than having persons with mental illness whipped in public, or incarcerated in dungeons (Stevens, D. 1997).
Soranus of Ephesus lived in the century 98 A.D. in Rome, and was a physician of women and childbirth. Soranus believed that the human body is composed of atoms constantly in motion. He theorized that disease was caused by a disturbance in these atoms. In light of the recent discovery that schizophrenia might be caused by a defective chromosome number six, Soranus' view coincide with the latest findings on the possible causes of some mental illness (Darton, K. 2000).
Although, Soranus described mental illness as an organic disturbance, he treated it by psychological methods, minimizing the use of drugs and other physical treatments. Treatments included encouraging reading, entertainment, sea voyagers, etc. Soranus thought that the patient should be engaged in intellectual activities not only for therapeutic purposes but to detect