The History of Insane Asylums Essay

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What comes to mind when you hear the words “insane asylum”? Do such terms as lunatic, crazy, scary, or even haunted come to mind? More than likely these are the terminology that most of us would use to describe our perception of insane asylums. However, those in history that had a heart’s desire to treat the mentally ill compassionately and humanely had a different viewpoint. Insane asylums were known for their horrendous treatment of the mentally ill, but the ultimate purpose in the reformation of insane asylums in the nineteenth century was to improve the treatment for the mentally ill by providing a humane and caring environment for them to reside. The mentally ill were treated very inhumanly in the early insane asylums. Some of the …show more content…
This one swung the mentally ill person around while he/she was in a harness. This treatment supposedly ‘calmed the nerves’.” (Gray). Needless to say the treatment of the insane was horrid and unbelievable. In the eighteenth century at Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, the public could pay a penny for a privilege to watch the “freaks”; they could poke the caged patients with a long stick (Taylor). Overcrowding was a huge issue in the insane asylums. In 1900 based on the authority of the Lunacy Commissioners report, it was stated that there was one “registered lunatic per every three hundred people.” (Chapman 164). Danvers State Hospital was built in 1878 to house 500 patients. This institution had over 2300 patients at its peak in the 1940s (Taylor). The over population of insane asylums began to deteriorate them and make them some of the most horrible places that existed. The conditions in these institutions were barely livable. The workers were also mean to the patients and did many awful things to them. There were too many patients and not enough nurses and doctors. This made the nurses work harder and put a lot more stress on them (“Pennhurst State”). In the 1950s, the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was occupied by over 2500 people. However, it was built to occupy only 250 people. The conditions were so filthy that occupants began to get sick and die. Some people were euthanized during this time
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