The Treatment Of Mental Illness

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The shutdown of state mental hospitals and lack of available financial and institutional resources force mentally ill people to the United States Judicial System for mental health. Every year thousands of people are arrested for various crimes and they are sent to jail. Sixteen percent of these people have some type of mental health problem (Public Broadcasting System , 2001). When we consider that the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world at 2.2 million, this number is staggering (Anasseril E. Daniel, 2007). This is about 1% of the entire population of the United States. There are many reasons as to why the situation has taken such a bad turn and when the history of the treatment of mental illness is examined one can see how the situation developed into the inhumane disaster it is today. Hippocrates was the first to recognize that mental illness was due to ‘disturbed physiology’ as opposed to ‘displeasure of the gods or evidence of demonic possession’. It was not until about one thousand years later that the first place designated for the mentally ill came to be in 15th century Spain. Before the 15th century, it was largely up to individual’s families to care for them. By the 17th century, society was ‘often housing them with handicapped people, vagrants, and delinquents. Those considered insane are increasingly treated inhumanely, often chained to walls and kept in dungeons’. There are great strides for the medical treatments for the mentally
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