Throughout history, human beings haven’t always been the nicest to each other. Some have murdered others. Some resorted to cannibalism when there was no food. These people were dangerous so they were admitted into mental institutions. Over time, mental institutions and asylums have taken in people with all sorts of psychological disorders. Although the patients are in an institution, it doesn’t mean that they are treated like human beings. Centuries ago, people who were mentally unstable were treated as if they were demonic or as if they weren’t human. Today, patients are handled with care. All treatments for psychological disorders have changed drastically over time. From the very start, people with psychological disorders have had their fair share of treatments. “In Colonial America, society referred to those suffering from mental illnesses as ‘lunatics” which interestingly enough was derived from the root word lunar meaning, “moon.” Most Colonists declared these lunatics possessed by the devil, and usually they were removed from society and locked away” (The History of Mental Illness).
The treatments for them ranged from being ignored to being tortured. In the book, Shutter Island, Dr. Cawley was explaining to Teddy how workers in institutions used to treat mental patients. “Just half a century ago, even less in some cases, the thinking on the kind of patients we deal with here was that they should, at best, be shackled and left in their own filth and waste. They were systematically beaten, as if that could drive the psychosis out” (Lehane, 34).
Around the middle ages, people who were considered mentally ill were thought to be witches and some believed they were possessed by demons. In the early 1600’s, the public started to isolate mentally ill people and put them in houses with handicapped people and criminals. Not only were they put into houses with these criminals, but the way they were being treated was becoming worse and worse. The things that we did to unstable people were sick and are unforgivable. “They were often chained to walls and kept in dungeons” (American Experience). When they were left in dungeons, we played around with their minds. “We demonized them. We tortured them. Spread them on racks, yes. Drove screws into their brains. Even drowned them on occasion” (Lehane, 34). Some “doctors” at the time thought that doing these things to the patients was a good idea. Frankly, they just wanted to play around with their minds. The doctors were probably thinking the same questions when screwing around with a patient’s brain; “what will happen when I pull this?” or “what will happen if I take this out?”
After the French Revolution in the 1700’s, “French physician Phillippe Pinel took over the Bicêtre insane asylum and forbade the use of chains and shackles. He removed patients from dungeons, provided them with sunny rooms, and also allowed them to exercise on the grounds” (American Experience).
Only a handful of people were starting to realize that a number of mentally unstable patients weren’t dangerous or that they weren’t being possessed by demons. Even though there were very few of these people who thought differently about people suffering from psychological disorders, they still made a difference in the way they were treated. One of the few people who wanted to take care of these patients was a woman named Dorothea Dix. “She established 32 state hospitals for the mentally ill” (American Experience). Around 1883, a German psychiatrist named Emil Kraepelin started studying mental disorders more scientifically. Now that there are people who want to help patients in asylums, they are coming up with different ways to treat their disorders. In Shutter Island, Dr. Cawley said to Teddy “Now we treat them morally. We try to heal, to cure” (Lehane, 34). Instead of using torture methods to get rid of their psychosis, scientists worked together to find…