Mental Health Care Treatments Past to Present

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My Thinking Past to Present

by on Feb.24, 2014, under Uncategorized

So I began this project thinking, ‘Cool! This actually is a fun school project!’ And that’s really how I thought of it at first, a school project. Nothing more. But as I went into research I thought, ‘am I really this into this for a school project?’ and I realized that I was much more into this than I thought. Think of it this way, I walked into a giant building labeled School Project thinking that yeah it’d be cool to know more about mental health care, but knowing that I probably wasn’t going to remember anything I researched later. But now I walk out and I look up at the building’s sign and it reads Alyssa’s Interest (I know lame title) because now I’ am totally engrossed in this. By the time I get home I might pull out my Mom’s copy of the DSM and read up on some disorders, and who knows, I might even make a professional blog for myself that goes about EVERYTHING concerning mental health care, OK maybe not EVERYTHING but definitely the history about it. That’s what I totally got into, the history. (I love history). I learned plenty that I didn’t know about my topic before. One of which being Dr. Rush (Sneaky little man really, I mean he was involved in the Temperance Movement too I’m told.) who was the one to create the Tranquilizer Chair (A pretty useless invention really seeing as it did nothing to help, AT ALL). Another of which was the treatments (Which is what I tried to focus on the most, I mean come on look at the title) that people in the past thought would help, some of them I seriously could imagine in my mind, the 16th century ‘Cure’ was pretty easy to see, and the 17th century too. In fact I could seriously see everything in my minds eye, and some of it was disturbing. I think if I do continue my research I’ll look up more on the history behind everything and also behind the Doctors thinking because from what I gather I see the Doctor in the hospital going, “Well I’ve never heard of those symptoms before, better put them in the asylum, their crazy!” And my best AH HA! Moment I’m gonna have to say was when I found the Tranquilizer chair,  because that’s what got me into this topic in the first place, a picture of a tranquilizer chair. 

With curating your becoming engrossed in your topic you know anything and everything about it. You can talk about it with personality and passion rather than just listing off a bunch of dumb facts that you got from one website. Your more into your topic. It becomes almost like a friend that you know really well. 

I’d like to say I don’t really think I had any failures, because I don’t recall any, but I’d also say that I had a lot of successes (Especially with that tranquilizer chair). Moving on, if I had to redo this project I wouldn’t really change any of my strategies. My way is simple, one topic to another, step by step, if you find something else along the way, save the link and go back later. Oh and you wait! This is gonna be so helpful on other research projects, because I know that I need to really get into something on my topic, the history, the fine lines, whatever! And if i do that I know I’ll enjoy the project rather than just sit there and groan.

My thinking on learning has changed a bit, I mean I suddenly feel like learning isn’t a chore, its a opportunity that can open so many doors up, down, right, left, anywhere! I learned also that my way of thinking varies, sometimes I’m practical and all my answers are logical and other times I’m sitting there betting for the impossible, it really just…depends. 

The web as a tool for research tool is something you have to cautious with, because like with all other tools if you don’t use it right, your gonna get bad results. And if I ever make another blog in the future its probably going to be about something i’m seriously into, like creative writing, or history, or Harry Potter! 

So keep your eye out for something with my name on it because i can promise you it’ll be worth the time to check it out!



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“The Father of American Psychiatry” Dr.Benjamin Rush

by on Feb.21, 2014, under Uncategorized

Dr.Benjamin Rush

This man might sound familiar if you’ve ever done some research on the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. He was one of those who desperately searched for a cure for the horrid disease. But  besides dealing with physical sicknesses he also dealt with mental ones.

(2) Dr.Rush thought that mental illnesses were caused by inflammation of the brain. He had many ways of treatment that included purging, blood letting, mercury (Those three he tried with yellow fever as well), and hot or cold baths. He also invented the  tranquilizer chair, “a chair that was supposed to control the flow of blood toward the brain and, by lessening muscular action or reducing motor activity, reduced the force and frequency of the pulse.” (1)



Tranquilizer Chair. N.d. Photograph. n.p. Web. 21 Feb 2014. .

The chair though did not help the patients, but thankfully it didn’t hurt them either, it fact I’m sure the only thing it really did was make the patients really bored, freak them out, or restrain them from running around crazily.

So what we can gather is that though Dr.Benjamin Rush did play a part in mental diseases and their treatments, he did not really find a working method at all, if the patient did somehow recover it was not due to blood letting, purging, taking a hot/cold bath, consuming mercury, or taking a seat in the tranquilizer chair.


(1) “DR. BENJAMIN RUSH.” Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 800-789-PENN © 2013, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania , n.d. Web. 21 Feb 2014. <>.

(2)”Diseases of the Mind.” Http:// U.S. National Library Of Medicine, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. <>.




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The Byberry Mental Health Hospital Philadelphia Early 1900’s

by on Feb.20, 2014, under Uncategorized

When reading through another blog that had a list of abandoned hospitals and mental asylums I came across the Byberry Mental Health Hospital and me being…well me I instantly wanted to do a focus post on it. Mainly because of the disgusting and horrible conditions in it when it was in use, those types of things always draw me in because I want to inform others about them.

Today if you ever go to the hospital it will look like this:

Byberry Mental Hospital. 2010. Photograph., Philadelphia . Web. 20 Feb 2014. .

Byberry Mental Hospital. 2010. Photograph., Philadelphia . Web. 20 Feb 2014. <>.

The hospital was built in 1906 as a small work farm, quickly patients began to file in, some were sent there by the respective hospitals they were staying at as a last resort. The Byberry hospital was soon full and overrun. The patients problems went from mentally ill to criminally insane and the hospital couldn’t keep up, many patients never got fit enough to leave and lived out the remainder of their lives there which I expect must have been just horrible in all kinds of ways…

The truth about everything in the Byberry Mental Health Hospital came out to the outside world when a man by the name of Charlie Lord came there. He had been sent to work as a orderly for a punishment and right away was disgusted with the conditions he saw. Many patients were in the nude, nestled together in bare, concrete rooms relieving themselves on the floor and they received no humanitarian treatment or stimulation at all.  When Lord tried to tell others about it no one believed him, so he snuck a camera in and photographed everything. One of the first to view the horrifying pictures was Eleanor Roosevelt, she then pledged  to put a stop to the inhumane things going on at Byberry. By 1946 the pictures were put in Time Magazine and helped the the reform of mental health come about.

Even so the Byberry Mental Health Hospital did not improve, it failed every inspection throughout the 1980’s and rumors began to fly around about how the patients were mistreated. One man claimed that during his time at Byberry he was chained to his bed for 14 months. Another person said that they had watched one patient murder another and then hide the disjointed body parts around the hospital, they said the killer escaped and was never found. By 1990 the hospital was closed and has been abandoned ever since.



Greenberg, Rachel. “Afflicted: 11 Abandoned American Hospitals and Asylums “Open” for Exploration.”, 17 Jul 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <>.

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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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Words We Use Today That Come From Mental Illnesses

by on Feb.13, 2014, under Uncategorized

There are a few words out there that we use today, whether for the mentally ill or not, that originated from a few interesting sayings and superstitions from the past. Here is a list:

  • Lunacy
  • Lunatic
  • Crazy
  • Insane
  • Psychiatry

We’ll go from past to as close to the present as we can get.

The words Lunacy and Lunatic are the earliest words we can trace back to when mental illnesses first started to show up. People had to explain why others were suddenly going mad. So they decided that it must be from the phases, positions and movements of the moon. Then there’s the latin word ‘Luna’ for moon and thus Lunacy and Lunatic.

Next words are Crazy and Insane, these words are ones used to explain/define the mentally ill. Crazy comes from the Middle English word “Cracked” and Insane comes from the Latin word “Insanus” meaning unhealthy.

Last there is Psychiatry which was a disciplinary form used first in 1808. The word was devised by a German physician known as  Dr. Johann Christian Reil.

So next time you use the word crazy, or Lunatic you can remember that those words came into use thanks to mental illness.


N.p., 3rd Apr 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <>.

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Women in the Asylums

by on Feb.12, 2014, under Uncategorized

Life for women in the 1800’s was a certain dull and aggravating thing I assume. They had to be cautious and quiet, and they always had to work hard, and they definitely had to be respectful of their husbands or fathers. If they didn’t they faced the threat of being put in the insane asylums. Some women were put in the asylums for something like not being submissive enough, others were locked away for depression (See Emma Riches post), and alcoholism. Something that I find very shocking is the fact that women would get locked up for menopause! Can you imagine that if you are a woman? Its not something that you can prevent, you can try to hide it and I expect women in the 1800’s did so to their very best ability but yet what if the man of the house came across it and figured something was wrong and had her sent away? That’s crazy!  The doctors can somewhat be to blame for them all going to the asylum in the first place, the doctors had no idea how to deal with the problems so the solution was the asylum.

Many woman who actually were sane and were put in the asylums lived the rest of their lives in cold,dirty quarters if they were among the many that stayed and died there. The asylum was a place that held only things needed to provide life and those things were the ones that provided a very poor life. The food was not a very hearty, healthy meal. The rooms they were kept in were cold, and the asylum wasn’t a place that radiated cleanliness. Sickness was something that moved rapidly and violently through the asylums.

So when you look at it women had a higher chance of getting put in an asylum than men did.


Sansone, Tina. “Women and the Insane Asylum.” Tennessee Genealogical Society. TN Genealogy Society. Web. 13 Feb 2014. <>.

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Emma Riches: Postnatal Depression 1850’s

by on Feb.12, 2014, under Uncategorized

One specific woman in the 1850’s by the name of Emma Riches was placed in the mental asylum after having a child and suffering from postnatal/Post-Postpartum depression (Both are the same thing) which is “A prolonged period of depression, flattened affect, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia which begins within a few weeks of delivery and may last for months. It is viewed as a stress reaction”(1). In her time though they called it “puerperal insanity”. Emma Riches case though was not met with crazy,horrible attempts to cure her as far as we know. She was put in a straight dress and when her photo was taken (Below)  an attendant’s hand restrained her own.

Emma Riches. Diagnosis: Insanity caused by childbirth

Emma Riches
Wallace, Wendy. “Sent to the asylum: The Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety .” Associated Newspapers Ltd, 16 May 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014..

What is also known about Emma Riches is that she had gone through the depression with her last three children as well and had been admitted to the asylum before. While in the asylum she responded to nothing, she would not speak and was forced to eat, and though often coaxed by attendants to try to sew or help cook she did relatively nothing. A year after having her newest child and being diagnosed with puerperal insanity Emma was proclaimed to be cured and sent home to her four children.

So this is proof, that no, not all “Insane” people in the 1800’s (Or at least the 1850’s) were cured with certain things like sensory deprivement. But that doesn’t mean that every case was treated the same way as Emma’s…


(1) “The Free Dictionary by Farlex.” Post-Partum Depression. Segens Medical Dictionary Farlex Inc, n.d. Web. 11 Feb 2014. < depression>.

Wallace, Wendy. “Sent to the asylum: The Victorian women locked up because they were suffering from stress, post natal depression and anxiety .” Associated Newspapers Ltd, 16 May 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.<>.


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Why Mental Health Care?

by on Feb.11, 2014, under Uncategorized

Some might wonder, why would you want to do a blog on mental health care treatments from the past to the present? To that I answer because I can and I want to. I want to because I’ am totally intrigued by the treatments used for people believed to have mental issues back then and how they have changed since.

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