Mental Health Care Treatments Past to Present

Treatments Used On the Mentally Insane Then and Now

by on Feb.19, 2014, under Uncategorized

Now in the 21st century we have a manual known as the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (Or the DSM)  that we use to diagnose the mentally ill. While the manual does not list treatments there is a possibility that with an accurate diagnoses we can be directed to an accurate treatment, and the treatments are never anything like locking you up in a dungeon…But back then from the 1600’s to the 1900’s things were very different.


In Europe (The New World had yet to be discovered) in the 1600’s if you were one considered mentally insane you were condemned to the dungeons with criminals and those with disabilities. You would be beaten (Most likely by the guards) and would be given nothing to clothe yourself with. You’d also be pretty hungry because they would hardly give you any food. When you think about it that’s not that hard to believes seeing as they thought finding money was bad luck, seriously believed black cats were a horrible omen associated with witches, and they also thought that if you dreamed of fire or eggs that someone would soon be angry (I know crazy *Cue eye roll* silly 16th century people!)

Europe in the 1700’s to early 1800’s

In the 1700’s to early 1800’s getting a medical treatment was like getting a cure (Maybe) but also getting mistreated, very mistreated. Induced vomiting and blood letting were two of the “treatments”. But those two are not the worst, I’d have to say in personal opinion, that I would rather do bloodletting as a cure on myself rather than be dunked in cold water which was a “treatment” but was also called Water Torture. Even worse than Water Torture? Well then there’s the Swinging Chair. A chair designed to spin the ill at super high speeds, they thought that doing so would help the patient vomit, empty his/her bladder contents, or pacify them into a tranquil state of mind.

Europe in the Late 1800’s

In Europe they finally started to feel a little concern for the mentally ill and let them stay in nice sun lit rooms and walk outside.

U.S  In 1800’s

However in the United States we thought that it might be nice for the mentally ill to hang out, chained in our basements, and we thought that it might be entertaining to let people come and watch the insane as well. But when the late 1800’s rolled around we too began to get concerned for the mentally ill and banned spinning devices. We allowed the ill clothes and food and taught them to behave in a civil manner in exchange for certain privileges.

U.s  In the Early 1900’s

In the 1900’s in the United States we started to keep the mentally ill in huge, crowded asylums. Then a movement known as the  Eugenic Movement, brought the thought of the mentally ill being contaminants of the gene pool. We created laws enforcing compulsory sterilization.


You can see how far we have come treatment wise with the mentally ill, I mean at first we treated them like they weren’t even human, and then (Though we considered them human) we started doing crazy, horrible things to them in attempt to cure them, and after that we considered them mutants of our gene pool. But after all of that we seemed to have come to our senses, and we have tried to help in much gentler ways, we give them good care now and we allow them leisure’s, and we do our best to assist them and their needs.



Ludovici, Kelly. “Treatments in Mental Health: A Brief History.” Warner Perspectives:Education Blog. Warner School of Education News, Commentary, and Perspectives, 10 Oct 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <>.

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