Movement History of the Consumer/ Client/ Survivor/ Ex-patient/ Ex-Inmate/ User Community (Timeline Follows)

The history of the Consumer/ Client/ Survivor/ Ex-patient/ Ex-Inmate/ User Community is deeply enmeshed in and with other civil and human rights movements. To understand the depth of this intertwining, it is necessary to cover the history of slavery, women, children, people with disabilities, education, labor and other factors that play a role in creating who we are today. For instance, one Neanderthal, Shanidar 1, from a site in Iraq, dating to 45,000 years ago, died around age 50 with one arm amputated, loss of vision in one eye and other injuries. This and others are case studies where direct support or accommodation was necessary (first Peer Support predates medicine by several thousand years). In our past, it was acceptable practice for one human being to own another. In our past, it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife. In our past, it was acceptable for parents and adults to abuse and exploit children. As we evolve and mature as a society, the boundaries of acceptability are moving toward greater humanity. Someday, it is hoped that people with emotional difficulties will find equal footing with others in society.

“We are a movement among other movements for human rights and social justice, both in the United States and around the world. The story of our cause and our efforts compliments and at times overlaps those of the women’s movement, the anti-war movement, the disability rights movement, the civil rights movement, gay and lesbian rights movement, etc. We need only remember that a woman who held religious beliefs that differed from her husband could be diagnosed with insanity and institutionalized against her will (Elizabeth Packard). Attempts to escape slavery were considered a form of mental illness (drapetomania). Blacks who rioted in the 1970′s were deemed to have “protest psychosis” and some were thought to need brain surgery. Alan Turing was chemically castrated for being homosexual and later took his own life. It wasn’t until 1973 that homosexuality was taken off the list of mental disorders. The movements for human rights, civil rights, and social justice are an intricate fabric. Each thread is critically important to the whole story and to the strength of fabric. Our causes are intertwined and that’s what make us strong.”  Patricia Deegan, Ph.D.

Why is history important?

History is important because it can help us to answer questions such as:

• How is "self-help" generally defined? What are the essential characteristics of "self-help"? What is the history and rationale for its use? How has it been instituted in different service fields?

• What is "mental health consumer/survivor self-help"? What is its history and the rationale for its use? What are its major philosophies, goals, values, and outcomes?

• What are consumer/survivor-operated self-help programs? What are the types of services delivered? How do the programs differ and how are they similar?

• How are consumer/survivor-operated self-help programs organized to achieve their aims? How are these efforts funded? How are they managed and administered? What sort of staffing patterns exist? What is the population that is served by these efforts? How are these efforts governed? What is the extent of program evaluation and research conducted with these programs? How do they interact with traditional, professional-run organizations, each other, and the external environment?

I think knowledge and understanding of our history and the principles and values of the movement are what’s called for. Too few people – especially people working in paid roles in the system – have any clue that the modern movement was based on human rights – not "illness and recovery." There were similar disparate branches of the movement in the 19th century too, and people need to know about that too. And it's important to remember the contributions of people who’ve gone before us. I just worry about this reverence of leaders stuff. (Darby Penney to David Gonzalez on Facebook on April 16, 2014 at 10:19pm)

Definition of Self-Help

Webster's Dictionary defines self-help as "the act or an instance of providing for or helping oneself without dependence on others" (Webster's, 1974). In more general terms, it is the process whereby individuals who share a common condition or interest assist themselves rather than relying on the assistance of others.

Over the past 25 years, American society (and the world in general) has witnessed a revolution in the way people access and receive help. The self-help movement has grown so dramatically that self-help and support groups now exist for everything from dream sharing to women's health. Self-help has gained such acceptance that the former Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. C. Everett Koop, observed that, "…the benefits of mutual aid are experienced by millions of people who turn to others with a similar problem to attempt to deal with their isolation, powerlessness, alienation…"

History of Self-Help

Self-help is not a new idea. People have been organizing to help themselves throughout history. Religious institutions have frequently played this role by offering support for common values, meeting basic material needs, and providing opportunities for socialization to their members. In the political arena, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Organization for Women (NOW), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), ACT UP, ADAPT and countless others form self-help coalitions to redress civil and social wrongs, change policy in the public/private sectors, and promote education. The modern self-help movement traces its roots to Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935 by two recovering alcoholics.

The mental health consumer/survivor self-help movement has experienced remarkable growth over the last two decades. The impact of this movement on mental health systems nationwide has been dramatic. No longer are people who use these services seen simply as passive recipients but as active participants at all levels in planning, providing, and evaluating services.


The history of the C/S/X Movement is important. It's important that people understand that ours is a civil rights movement and not just peer support. Both are important but I don't want peer supporters to get co-opted so it's important that they understand that we come from a place of oppression. In our White dominated society, Black folks are often not considered equal. In our male dominated society, women are often not considered equal. Children are often considered "chattel" and those inequalities are, a source of oppression. I think those inequities lead to trauma and abuse. I think we are often considered as "less than." It's those attitudes that lead to it somehow being socially acceptable for police to Taser us, for psychiatric staff to drug us, to seclude and restrain us, for the courts to civilly commit us for our thoughts, moods, feelings or emotions. Understanding our shared oppression and our place in the greater movement for civil rights is important. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it."

The Timeline that follows the introductory sections includes overlapping pieces of history that are important or relevant to our C/S/X history. Included are pieces of the history of poverty, history of the Independent Living Movement for People with Disabilities, history of psychology and history of psychiatry, history of the Women’s movement, history of the youth movement, history of the civil rights movement, history of the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi, trans) movement, history of the labor movement including child labor, important pieces of medical history and political history, and other important pieces of note that impacted upon us and our rights. All entries represent important points of note in striving for and attaining the right to our bodies, the right to our selves, our rights as human beings and overcoming the oppression of treating us as less than fully equal.

1. Did you know that prior to 1960 it was common for physicians and psychologists at state hospitals to be assigned help-patients who acted as personal servants in charge of house cleaning, gardening, laundry, and cooking?

2. Did you know that in 1995-97 at least four major books on the history of mental health care in America were written and not one contains first hand accounts from ex-patients?

3. Did you know that the federal government established the fully segregated Canton Indian Insane Asylum in South Dakota in 1902 and that the town of Canton has since built the Hiawatha Municipal Golf Course around the graves of 121 former inmates?

4. Did you know that only one type of mental illness was thought to exist in American slaves? It was called Drapetomania and was defined as the inexplicable urge of a slave to run away!

5. Did you know that there are people who still remember what it was like to be a patient at a state hospital in the 1930's? They remember working on the hospital farms, the experience of malarial treatments, wet packs, metrazol shock, insulin coma therapy and how (or if) things changed with the introduction of Thorazine in the 1950's.

6. Did you know that Central State Hospital in Virginia was established in 1869 exclusively for “colored insane”?

History of Mental Illness and Early Treatment in a Nutshell (Timeline follows)

Early man widely believed that mental illness was the result of supernatural phenomena such as spiritual or demonic possession, sorcery, the evil eye, or an angry deity and so responded with equally mystical, and sometimes brutal, treatments. Trephining (also referred to as trepanning) first occurred in Neolithic (last phase of the stone age c9000-8000bc) times. During this procedure, a hole, or trephine, was chipped into the skull using crude stone instruments. It was believed that through this opening the evil spirit(s)--thought to be inhabiting one’s head and causing their psychopathology--would be released and the individual would be cured. Some who underwent this procedure survived and may have lived for many years afterward as trephined skulls of primitive humans show signs of healing. Pressure on the brain may have also incidentally been relieved. This procedure endured through the centuries to treat various ailments such as skull fractures and migraines as well as mental illness, albeit with more sophisticated tools such as skull saws and drills developed solely for this purpose.

In ancient Mesopotamia, priest-doctors treated the mentally ill with magico-religious rituals as mental pathology was believed to mask demonic possession. Exorcisms, incantations, prayer, atonement, and other various mystical rituals were used to drive out the evil spirit. Other means attempted to appeal to the spirit with more human devices-- threats, bribery, punishment, and sometimes submission, were hoped to be an effective cure.

Hebrews believed that all illness was inflicted upon humans by God as punishment for committing sin, and even demons that were thought to cause some illnesses were attributed to God’s wrath. Yet, God was also seen as the ultimate healer and, generally, Hebrew physicians were priests who had special ways of appealing to the higher power in order to cure sickness. Along the same spiritual lines, ancient Persians attributed illness to demons and believed that good health could be achieved through proper precautions to prevent and protect one from diseases. These included adequate hygiene and purity of the mind and body achieved through good deeds and thoughts.

Ancient Egyptians seem to be the most forward-thinking in their treatment of mental illness as they recommended that those afflicted with mental pathology engage in recreational activities such as concerts, dances, and painting in order to relieve symptoms and achieve some sense of normalcy. The Egyptians were also very advanced in terms of medicine, surgery, and knowledge of the human body. Two papyri dating back to the sixteenth century BCE, the Edwin Smith papyrus and the Ebers papyrus, document early treatment of wounds, surgical operations, and identifies, very likely for the first time, the brain as the site of mental functions. These papyri also show that, despite innovative thinking about disease, magic and incantations were used to treat illnesses that were of unknown origin, often thought to be caused by supernatural forces such as demons or disgruntled divine beings. Ancient Egyptians also shared the early Greek belief that hysteria in women, now known as Conversion Disorder, was caused by a “wandering uterus,” and so used fumigation of the vagina to lure the organ back into proper position.

In all of these ancient civilizations, mental illness was attributed to some supernatural force, generally a displeased deity. Most illness, particularly mental illness, was thought to be afflicted upon an individual or group of peoples as punishment for their trespasses. In addition to the widespread use of exorcism and prayer, music was used a therapy to affect emotion, and the singing of charms and spells was performed in Babylonia, Assyria, the Mediterranean-Near East, and Egypt in hopes of achieving a cure.

Beliefs about mental illness and proper treatments were altered, and in some cases advanced, by early European thinkers. Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE, Greek physician Hippocrates denied the long-held belief that mental illness was caused by supernatural forces and instead proposed that it stemmed from natural occurrences in the human body, particularly pathology in the brain. Hippocrates, and later the Roman physician Galen, introduced the concept of the four essential fluids of the human body—blood, phlegm, bile, and black bile—the combinations of which produced the unique personalities of individuals. Through the Middles Ages, mental illness was believed to result from an imbalance of these humors. In order to bring the body back into equilibrium, patients were given emetics, laxatives, and were bled using leeches or cupping. Specific purges included a concoction developed by Ptolemy called Hiera Logadii, which combined aloes, black hellebore, and colocynth and was believed to cleanse one of melancholy. Confectio Hamech was another laxative developed by the Arabs that contained myrobalans, rhubarb, and senna. Later, tobacco imported from America was popularly used to induce vomiting. Other treatments to affect the humors consisted of extracting blood from the forehead or tapping the cephalic, saphenous, and/or hemorroidal veins to draw corrupted humors away from the brain. In addition to purging and bloodletting (also known as phlebotomy), customized diets were recommended. For example, “raving madmen” were told to follow diets that were “cooling and diluting,” consisting of salad greens, barley water, and milk, and avoid wine and red meat.

Custody and care of the mentally ill were generally left to the individual’s family, although some outside intervention occurred. The first mental hospital was established in 792 CE Baghdad and was soon followed by others in Aleppo and Damascus—mass establishment of asylums and institutionalization took place much later, though. The mentally ill in the custody of family were widely abused and restrained, particularly in Christian Europe. Due to the shame and stigma attached to mental illness, many hid their mentally ill family members in cellars, caged them in pigpens, or put them under the control of servants. Others were abandoned by their families and left to a life of begging and vagrancy.

The social stigma attached to mental illness was, and to some extent still is, pronounced in countries that have strong ties to family honor and a reliance on marriages to create alliances and relieve families of burdensome daughters. In China, the mentally ill were concealed by their families for fear that the community would believe that the affliction was the result of immoral behavior by the individual and/or their relatives. The mentally ill were also thought to have “bad fate” that would negatively influence anyone who associated with the disturbed individual, scaring away potential suitors and leading to the idea that mental illness was contagious. Historically in Greece, “a mentally ill [family] member implies a hereditary, disabling condition in the bloodline and threatens [the family’s] identity as an honorable unit,” therefore treatment of the mentally ill in these cultures meant a life of hidden confinement or abandonment by one’s family. Mentally ill vagrants were left alone to wander the streets so long as they did not cause any social disorder. Those who were deemed dangerous or unmanageable, both in family homes or on the streets, were given over to police and thrown in jails or dungeons, sometimes for life. Particularly in Europe during the Middle Ages, beatings were administered to the mentally ill who acted out as punishment for the disturbances their behavior caused and as a means of “teaching” individuals out of their illnesses. Others who were considered nuisances were flogged out of town.

Through the Middle Ages and until the mass establishment of asylums, treatments for mental illness were offered by humanistic physicians, medical astrologers, apothecaries, and folk or traditional healers. Aside from secular exorcisms, prayers, charms, amulets, and other mystical treatments were available. In the 17th century, astral talismans were popular and were easily made using brass or tin emblems with astrological signs etched into them and cast at astrologically significant times. These were worn around the neck of the afflicted while they recited prayers. Also worn around the neck were scraps of Latin liturgy wrapped in paper, bundled with a leaf of mugwort or St. John’s Wort and tied with taffeta. Amulets were also used, supplemented by prayers and charms, to soothe troubled minds, prevent mystical infection, and protect against witches and evil spirits. Sedatives during the 17th century consisted of opium grains, unguents, and laudanum to “ease the torment” of mental illness.

Some treatment options existed beyond family custody and care, such as lodging the mentally ill in workhouses or checking them into general hospitals where they were frequently abandoned. The clergy also played a significant role in treating the mentally ill as “medical practice was a natural extension of ministers’ duty to relieve the afflictions of their flocks.” Private madhouses were established and run by members of the clergy to treat the mentally afflicted who could afford such care. Catholic nations regularly staffed mental health facilities with clergy, and most mentally ill individuals in Russia were housed in monasteries until asylums spread to this region of the world in the mid-1800s. To relieve mental illness, regular attendance in church had been recommended for years as well as pilgrimages to religious shrines. Priests often solaced mentally disturbed individuals by encouraging them to repent their sins and seek refuge in God’s mercy. Treatment in clergy-run facilities was a desirable alternative as the care was generally very humane, although these establishments could not treat the whole of the mentally ill population, especially as it seemed to grow in number.

In order to accommodate the burgeoning amount of mentally ill individuals, asylums were established around the world starting, most notably, from the sixteenth century onward. The first institution to open its doors in Europe is thought to be the Valencia mental hospital in Spain, in 1406. Although not much is known about the treatment patients received at this particular site, asylums were notorious for the deplorable living conditions and cruel abuse endured by those admitted. For many years, asylums were not facilities aimed at helping the mentally ill achieve any sense of normalcy or otherwise overcome their illnesses. Instead, asylums were merely reformed penal institutions where the mentally ill were abandoned by relatives or sentenced by the law and faced a life of inhumane treatment, all for the sake of lifting the burden off of ashamed families and preventing any possible disturbance in the community.

The majority of asylums were staffed by gravely untrained, unqualified individuals who treated mentally ill patients like animals. A case study describes a typical scene at La Bicetre, a hospital in Paris, starting with patients shackled to the wall in dark, cramped cells. Iron cuffs and collars permitted just enough movement to allow patients to feed themselves but not enough to lie down at night, so they were forced to sleep upright. Little attention was paid to the quality of the food or whether patients were adequately fed. There were no visitors to the cell except to deliver food, and the rooms were never cleaned. Patients had to make do with a little amount of straw to cover the cold floor and were forced to sit amongst their own waste that was also never cleaned up. These conditions were not all unique to La Bicetre, and this case study paints a fairly accurate picture of a typical scene in asylums around the world from approximately the 1500s to the mid-1800s, and in some places, the early 1900s.

The most infamous asylum was located in London, England—Saint Mary of Bethlehem. This monastery-turned-asylum began admitting the mentally ill in 1547 after Henry VIII announced its transformation. The institution soon earned the nickname “Bedlam” as its horrific conditions and practices were revealed. Violent patients were put on display like sideshow freaks for the public to peek at for the price of one penny; gentler patients were put out on the streets to beg for charity. It was customary in the middle ages until the 19th century in England and France to publicly display the insane through windows where their behaviors could be observed while they were chained to the walls of the asylum. In 17th century England, one penny was required for such a viewing and, according to one accounting, 400 hundred pounds was accumulated over the year which represented approximately 96,000 visits. It was not unusual for a family to take their children on a Sunday trip to see the insane in these facilities surrounding urban areas. At this time in history, madness or mental illness was not considered an illness; rather, it was thought that "madness borrowed its face from the mask of the beast," i.e., it was caused by sin and social deviance. According to a writing by St. Vincent DePaul: “The principal end from which such persons have been removed here, out of the storms of the great world, and introduced into this solitude as pensioners, is entirely to keep them from the slavery of sin, from being eternally damned, and to give them means to rejoice in a perfect contentment in this world and in the next.” By the end of the 18th century one out of every one hundred citizens of the city of Paris was confined in one or more of these institutions. It was not until after the Renaissance that mental illness was identified as an illness unique from other social deviancy, and thus began the segregation of persons with mental illness from others whom society thought undesirable.

Soon after the establishment of “Bedlam,” other countries began to follow suit and founded their own mental health facilities. San Hipolito was built in Mexico 1566 and claims the title of the first asylum in the Americas. La Maison de Chareton was the first mental facility in France, founded in 1641 in a suburb of Paris. Constructed in 1784, the Lunatics’ Tower in Vienna became a showplace. The elaborately decorated round tower contained square rooms in which the staff lived. The patients were housed in the spaces between the walls of the rooms and the wall of the tower and, like at Bedlam, were put on display for public amusement.

When staff did attempt to cure the patients, they followed the practices typical of the time period—purging and bloodletting, the most common. Other treatments included dousing the patient in either hot or ice-cold water to shock their minds back into a normal state. The belief that patients needed to choose rationality over insanity led to techniques aiming to intimidate. Blistering, physical restraints, threats, and straitjackets were employed to achieve this end. Powerful drugs were also administered, for example, to a hysterical patient in order to exhaust them. Around the mid-1700s, the Dutch Dr. Boerhaave invented the “gyrating chair” that became a popular tool in Europe and the United States. This instrument was intended to shake up the blood and tissues of the body to restore equilibrium, but instead resulted in rendering the patient unconscious without any recorded successes.

Although cruel treatment in asylums surely felt to the patients as if it had been going on for ages, conditions began to improve in the mid-to- late 1800s as reforms were called for, and this shameful and unenlightened period was somewhat brief in relation to the span of world history. One of the earliest reforms occurred at an asylum in Devon, England. This facility had employed opium, leeches, and purges as cures for mental illness, but in the mid-1800s emphasized non-restraint methods to affect patients’ health.

One of the most significant asylum reforms was introduced by Philippe Pinel in Paris. During the year of 1792, Pinel took charge of La Bicetre to test his hypothesis that mentally ill patients would improve if they were treated with kindness and consideration. Filth, noise, and abuse were eliminated quickly after patients were unchained, provided with sunny rooms, allowed to exercise freely on the asylum grounds, and were no longer treated like animals.

The same reforms were undertaken around this time by an English Quaker, William Tuke. Founded in 1796, the York Retreat in York, England was run by Tuke and other Quakers who stressed the importance of treating all people with respect and compassion, even the mentally ill. In keeping faithful to this ideal, the York Retreat was a pleasant country house, modeled on a domestic lifestyle, that allowed patients to live, work, and rest in a warm and religious environment that emphasized mildness, reason, and humanity.

This humanitarian movement spread across the Atlantic to the United States in the early 1800s. Stemming largely from the work of Pinel and Tuke, moral management emerged in America as “a wide-ranging method of treatment that focused on a patient’s social, individual, and occupational needs.” Applied to asylum care, moral management focused on the mentally ill individual’s spiritual and moral development as well as the rehabilitation of their personal character to lessen their mental ailments. These goals were sought through encouraging the patient to engage in manual labor and spiritual discussion, always accompanied by humane treatment.

Although moral management was highly effective, it largely failed to continue through the late 1800s for several reasons. First, ethnic prejudice created tension between staff and patients as immigration increased. The leaders of the moral management movement also failed to pass along their teachings, so there was a lack of replacements. Third, supporters of this movement did not realize that bigger hospitals differed from smaller ones in more ways than just size, leading to an overextension of hospital facilities. Biomedical advances also led to the demise of moral management as most believed that medicine would soon be the cure-all for physical as well as mental afflictions and, therefore, psychological and social help was not necessary. Lastly, the rise of a new movement called Mental Hygiene focused solely on the patient’s physical health and ignored their psychological disturbances. Although this new movement ended the effective reign of moral management and resulted in many patients becoming helpless and dependent, there were several humanitarian positives to Mental Hygiene.

Dorothea Dix was a schoolteacher forced to retire early due to her bouts of tuberculosis. Soon after she began teaching in a women’s prison and learned of the horrific conditions of jails, almshouses, and particularly mental health facilities, Dix commenced a forty-year long campaign to reform asylums called the Mental Hygiene movement. Although this movement did not directly affect patients’ mental illnesses, it raised millions of dollars to build hospitals that were suitable for proper care and influenced twenty American states to respond to her pleas for change, resulting in greater physical comfort of the patients. Dix also managed to oversee the opening of two institutions in Canada and completely revamp the systems of mental health care in Scotland and several other countries.

Improvements in asylum care continued in America and Europe, although sub-par conditions persisted in numerous American and European institutions. Many countries around the world were also slow, or failed completely, to implement sufficient reforms. For example, asylums in Nigeria, Africa were not even established until 1906 after citizens started complaining about the disruptive behavior of mentally ill individuals that were left to roam the streets and wander from village to village. Until that year, the mentally ill were either sent to asylums in Sierra Leone or locked in the lunatic ward of local prisons. When asylums were finally established in Lagos and Abeokuta, the conditions were less than pleasant. Common complaints included dark, overcrowded cells, a lack of basic supplies, poor bathing facilities, and the use of chains to restrain patients. Very little treatment was offered to help the patients with their mental illnesses with the exception of minimal occupational therapy and agricultural work as well as the administration of sedatives to keep patients calm and under control—a practice that was likely more beneficial to the staff than the afflicted.

Significant advances in psychological concepts after the mass establishment of asylums did not arise until the development of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Examination of an earlier practice, Mesmerism, must be mentioned first though as it is commonly posited to have provided a foundation for later psychoanalytic techniques. Austrian physician Franz Mesmer believed that human bodies contained a magnetic fluid that was affected by the planets and determined one’s health depending on its distribution. Mesmer concluded that all persons were capable of using their own magnetic forces to affect the magnetic fluid in others and considered himself to be powerful enough to cure illnesses with his “animal magnetism.” Mesmer gained a large following when he opened a clinic in Paris 1778 and started practicing his “mesmerism.” In order to affect cures, several patients at a time were seated around a tub containing various chemicals. Iron rods attached to the tub were applied to the afflicted parts of their body (as patients were generally hysterical and experiencing numbness or paralysis), after which Mesmer would emerge in light purple robe and circle around the room touching the patients either with his hand or with a wand. Although Mesmer’s techniques reportedly were effective, he was branded a fraud by his medical colleagues, and his “cures” were later believed to be the result of hypnotism, a psychoanalytic practice.

Between the years of 1888 and 1939, Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, published twenty-four volumes explaining his thoughts about personality and psychopathology called Psychoanalytic Theory. Freud believed that the human mind was structured in three divisions—the id, the ego, and the superego. The id functioned unconsciously, driven by the two main primal desires for sex and aggression. The superego functioned both consciously and unconsciously, demanding that the individual deny the id’s impulses and instead live a virtuous life, striving to meet society’s ideals. The ego also functioned both consciously and unconsciously and was deemed the mediator between an individual’s id and superego, always working to find a balance between what one desired and what society considered acceptable. The unconscious was thought to be the seat of psychopathology as it contained unacceptable desires and painful memories that had been repressed by the two higher functions as they would have been too unsettling to acknowledge. Freud believed that anxiety arose as these three parts of the human mind battled each other, resulting in mental illness and that if the individual could only reveal and address the content of their unconscious, then their mental ailments would be cured.

The resulting treatments created by Freud are known as psychoanalysis, or “talking cures” and began with hypnosis, a revised form of mesmerism. When this specific method did not prove to be effective, Freud turned to free association in which the patient was instructed to relax and share whatever thoughts came to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing they might have been. Freud believed that these thoughts would create a path that he could follow into the patient’s unconscious, where he could then retrieve years of repressed thoughts and feelings. The unconscious was also thought to be revealed through an individual’s beliefs, habits, and even slips of the tongue and pen, which came to be known as “Freudian slips.” Dream analysis was another popular method of treatment promoted by Freud. Patients were asked to record their dreams, sometimes every morning in a journal kept bedside. The psychoanalyst would then study the manifest content of the dream, or what was remembered by the patient, and search for latent content, or the unconscious materials that were thought to be censored by the conscious mind and instead encoded as symbols. Although Freud provoked many critics who considered his ideas pseudo-science, psychoanalysis was a very popular method of treating mental illness from the early to mid 1900s.

Also in development and widespread use during this time were somatic treatments for mental illness such as electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery, and psychopharmacology. These treatments were based on the biological model of mental pathology that assumes mental illness is the result of a biochemical imbalance in the body and can be compared to physical diseases. Therefore, somatic treatments were designed to correct an individual’s chemical imbalance in order to restore their mental health.

Electroconvulsive therapy has roots in methods designed to shock the body but without the aid of electricity. In 1933, Manfred Sakel reported his first experimental findings, testing the efficacy of insulin-shock treatment on schizophrenic patients in Berlin, Germany. Insulin was administered to the patient in a dose high enough to induce coma, and although the treatment seemed to be beneficial to individuals in the early stages of schizophrenia, it was not proven to be useful in advanced cases of schizophrenia. Sakel’s vague theoretical rationale for this specific method and the difficult regimen of care this treatment required also led to the abandonment of insulin-shock therapy.

Ladislaus Joseph von Meduna experimented with shock therapy and schizophrenia in Budapest, Hungary, also during the year 1933. Instead of insulin, Meduna injected patients with Metrazol, a less toxic synthetic preparation of camphor. This treatment was soon abandoned as it possessed a period of unpredictable length between injection and convulsions, giving the patient just enough time to become fearful and uncooperative. It also often produced convulsions that were so severe as to cause fractures.

Finally in 1938, Italian physicians Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini administered the first shock therapy using electricity to a schizophrenic patient and received successful results. This treatment soon became widespread and was used most often in America and Europe. There is some history of abuse associated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) though that took place in mental institutions. Because the idea of an electrical current being passed through one’s head is undoubtedly frightening, ECT was used to intimidate, control, and punish patients, some of whom were subjected to this treatment over a hundred times. Despite previous instances of abuse, this treatment is still used today, albeit with significant reforms. It is generally reserved only for the mentally ill who suffer from severe depression, especially of the variety accompanied by psychotic symptoms, and only as a last resort after the patient has not responded to any other treatments, including medication. Patients are also administered a general anesthetic and muscle relaxant prior to the treatment so that they do not suffer any discomfort and there is no danger of fractured bones. Electroconvulsive therapy is commonly performed on a patient three times a week until a dozen sessions are reached, although some patients may require more or less sessions to benefit. The only negative side effects reported are amnesia limited to the few hours before the session and disorientation; both disappear soon after ECT is stopped.

When electroconvulsive therapy was not effective, patients were sometimes forced to undergo psychosurgery, a practice that developed and was widely practiced in the 1930s to 1950s. It was in Portugal, 1935, that Egas Moniz performed the first lobotomy with the aid of a neurosurgeon, Almeida Lima; Walter Freeman was responsible for popularizing lobotomies in America. To execute this procedure, the patient was first shocked into a coma. The surgeon then hammered an instrument similar to an icepick through the top of each eye socket and severed the nerves connecting the frontal lobes to the emotion-controlling centers of the inner brain. The intended purpose of the lobotomy was to calm uncontrollably violent or emotional patients, and it did--at first--prove to be successful. Because of the preliminary positive results and the facts that it was easy, inexpensive, and the average time it took to complete the procedure was only about ten minutes, lobotomies quickly spread around the world as a popular practice for severely mentally ill patients who were resistant to other treatments. It was only after tens of thousands of patients worldwide had undergone this procedure during the following twenty years that people started to take notice of its undesirable side effects. Lobotomies generally produced personalities that were lethargic and immature. Aside from a twenty-five percent death rate, lobotomies also resulted in patients that were unable to control their impulses, were unnaturally calm and shallow, and/or exhibited a total absence of feeling. Not surprisingly, this practice was quickly abandoned with the introduction of psychoactive drugs.

Since the late 1800s, substances such as chloryl hydrate, bromides, and barbiturates were administered to the mentally ill in order to sedate them, yet they were ineffective in treating the basic symptoms of psychosis. It was not until Australian psychiatrist J.F.J Cade introduced the psychotropic drug Lithium in 1949 that psychopharmacology really took off. A series of successful anti-psychotic drugs were introduced in the 1950s that did not cure psychosis but were able to control its symptoms. Chlorpromazine (commonly known as Thorazine) was the first of the anti-psychotic medications, discovered in France, 1952. Valium became the world’s most prescribed tranquilizer in the 1960s, and Prozac, introduced in 1987, became the most prescribed antidepressant.

The introduction of psychopharmacology is arguably one of the most significant and successful contributions to mental illness treatment, although it did lead to a movement that has been devastating to mental health care systems around the world, especially in the United States. The advent of psychoactive drugs convinced many that all illnesses would soon be effectively managed with medication, leading to the deinstitutionalization movement that rapidly occurred starting in the 1960s. It was believed that numerous community-based facilities would be conveniently available to the mentally ill should they choose to seek it out, although this plan was never sufficiently realized. Instead, thousands of the mentally ill discharged from institutions were incapable of living independently, medicated or not, and became homeless as a result of inadequate housing and follow-up care. In the 1980s, it was estimated that one-third of all homeless individuals in America were considered severely mentally ill. Lack of support and guidance led to the incarceration of over 100,000 mentally ill individuals in America as well. A 1992 survey reported that 7.2 percent of the inmate population was “overtly and seriously mentally ill;” over one-fourth of that population was being detained without charges until beds became available in one of the country’s few remaining mental hospitals.

Psychotropic medication has additionally allowed individuals to avoid directly confronting their mental health issues, for example through counseling. Despite successful advances in therapy, such as Roger’s Client-Centered Counseling and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, among many others, mentally ill individuals have found it easier to avoid the shame associated with mental illness in countries where psychopathology is profoundly stigmatized. For instance, since deinstitutionalization, community health centers, day-care facilities, short- and long-term residencies, vocational training programs, and mobile units have all been established in Greece, yet the majority of the mentally ill, aside from those suffering from severe psychosis, still treat themselves only with psychotropic medication as they find it easier to hide their mental ailments from their friends, family, and communities. Supernatural beliefs about mental illness persist in other countries around the world, motivating most individuals to consult traditional healers first to help restore their mental health before they seek out professional, medical assistance. Workers in Nigerian asylums claimed that individuals were often only admitted after traditional healers has exhausted all treatment possibilities, and even today this country is known for its ethnopsychiatry as its mental health facilities employ traditional healers and frequently incorporate their practices into more modern treatments. It is also common in several countries that mental health is a grossly misunderstood and ignored problem, leading to serious underdevelopment of mental health facilities. Some countries in the Arab world have the highest income per capita, yet all have mental health systems that are severely lacking, including Morocco, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and more. Individuals in these countries also continue to hold supernatural beliefs about mental illness and feel ashamed due to stigma, so they often consult traditional healers first with physical complaints, which are more likely psychosomatic symptoms. China is another country whose mental health services are limited due to stigma and misunderstanding. Confucian ideals about social order allow no wiggle-room for mental illness. Those afflicted with psychopathology rush to traditional healers, seek out prescriptions for psychoactive medication, or are begrudgingly taken care of by family members; the mentally ill who become disruptive to society are likely to be incarcerated.

This article has examined the major developments in mental health care as well as some interesting details about mental illness treatments throughout world history. Perceptions of mental health have changed greatly since the earliest civilizations and will continue to change as more is learned about the minds of humankind. Although significant advances have been made in this field of study that greatly benefit many individuals suffering from psychopathology, there remains much room for improvement. It will likely be ages before the workings of the human mind will be fully understood, if this is indeed an attainable goal.

A Terrifying Asylum Tour Of The Past

Featured 02/10/2014


Serbian Psychiatric Hospital. Photo taken by George Georgiou who worked in Kosovo and Serbia between 1999 and 2002.



Female patients receiving Radium Therapy, early 20th century.



Chair used to calm hysterical patients -- looks an awful lot like an electric chair.



An insane asylum patient restrained by warders, Yorkshire, 1869, Henry Clarke.



A patient undergoing lateral cerebral diathermia treatment in the early 1920's. Diathermia used a galvanized current to jolt psychosis sufferers. Doctors eventually deemed it unsafe and unreliable.



Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA insane asylum, 1870's



A chronic schizophrenic patient stands in a catatonic position. He maintained this uncomfortable position for hours.


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The Pilgram Psychiatric Center in Long Island, NY, USA could house as many as 14,000 patients at a time. This self-sufficient mental asylum adopted extremely aggressive methods of "curing the insane." Lobotomies and electric shock therapy were the norm. The doctors at this asylum started using large doses of insulin and metrozol to drive patients into a violent coma, just to be rid of them.



Basement dining.



A list of actual reasons for admission into the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from the late 1800's



Pilgram State Hospital, Brentwood, NY, USA, 1940's



Lobotomy tools



Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry. Man in restraints, B, violent ward. 1945.



Mechanical slapping massage device at BC sanitarium.



Norwich State Hospital, Connecticut, USA



A mother who has tuberculosis, and is on strict bed rest, leaves her room at the sanatorium for a Sunday walk with her family... but she does not leave her bed.



Made by a paranoid schizophrenic patient



Cuenca, Spain, 1961 Insane asylum



Sections of brain encased in wax. West Park Mental Hospital "Mortuary."




Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Foundling Hospital, playroom." Tots at the Washington Asylum for 'Foundlings.'



Self harm at an Asylum, 1964


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Patients in steam cabinets, c 1910.



An X-ray image of needles driven into the flesh by a psychiatric patient.



Abandoned asylum, Limbiate, Italy



In the late 19th century it was a widely held belief that masturbation caused insanity and devices such as this were designed to prevent the wearer from touching or stimulating himself. They were often used in mental institutions.



17th-Century Insanity Mask.



Hydrotherapy first used in the early 1900's, immersion in a tub of water to make a patient relax when agitated or relieve some ailment, lasted a few hours to overnight. 1936



Self-decorated patient, Asylum life 1800's



Sunland Asylum...Dr. Freeman, the quack who did ice pick lobotomies. The procedure turned most "problem" patients into zombies.




Patient in restraint chair at the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, Wakefield, Yorkshire ca. 1869



There is no way out...



Some four thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians did not differentiate between mental and physical illnesses; they believed that despite their manifestations, all diseases had physical causes. They thought the heart was responsible for mental symptoms. Hippocrates and the early Greeks believed as well that all illness resulted from a biological malfunction; in the case of depression, from an excess of “black bile”.

The ancients may have been off the mark as to specific causes, but their nonperjorative view of mental suffering and their search for medical causes were right on track.  Some of the earliest views of mental illness follow:

Early Egypt: During this time period mental illness was believed to be caused by loss of status or money.  The recommended treatment was to “talk it out”, and to turn to religion and faith.  Suicide was accepted at this time.

Job/Old Testament: Despair and cognition was the accepted cause of mental illness; faith the cure.

Homer: Homer believed that mental illness was caused by God's taking a mind away.  He offered no treatment.

Aeschylus: Demon possession was the theory of Aeschylus to explain Mental illness ; exorcism the cure.

Socrates: Socrates believed that mental illness was heaven-sent and not shameful in the least.  He believed it to be a blessing, and therefore no treatment was required.

Aristotle: Melancholia was the cause of mental illness according to Aristotle, and music was the cure.

Hippocrates: It was the belief of Hippocrates that both melancholia and natural medical causes contributed to mental illness.  He advised abstinence of various types, a natural vegetable diet and exercise as treatment.

Celsius: Celsus believed mental illness to be a form of madness to be treated with entertaining stories, diversion and persuasion therapy.

Galen: Psychic functions of the brain were considered by Galen to be the foremost cause of mental illness.  Treatment consisted of confrontation, humor and exercise.

As history progressed, however, the “mind” view of mental illness came to predominate, and with it the conviction that the victim was to blame. Possession by evil spirits, moral weakness, and other such “explanations” made a stigma of mental illness and placed the responsibility for a cure on the resulting outcasts themselves. The most apparently ill were chained to walls in institutions such as the infamous Bedlam, where the rest of society could forget they existed.

Conditions in these institutions were horrible.  “Inmates” as they were called were crowded into dark cells, sometimes sleeping five to a mattress on dank damp floors, chained in place.  There was no fresh air, no light, very little nutrition and they were whipped and beaten for misbehavior much like wild animals.  No differentiation was made between mentally ill and criminally insane; all were packed together.  Some women were committed at this time simply for the “crime” of attempting to leave their husband, or at their husband's insistence in order to gain control of her assets.

They were not recognized as sick people and were accused of having abandoned themselves to shameful and forbidden practices with the devil, sorcerers and other demons (unbelievably there are people who still believe this today).  The mentally ill were accused of having succumbed to spells, incantations and of having committed many sinful offences and crimes.  They were persecuted without mercy and many of them were burned at the stake.

The few doctors who tried to convince the authorities and general public that the “insane” were mentally ill, and sick people who needed attention and care were ridiculed.  Often they faced danger to their professional reputations and to their person as well.

During the 1700's many people were simply locked away by their families, perhaps for a lifetime.  Poorer individuals were jailed or placed in publicly funded almshouses.  They received basic car, but conditions were undeniably bad.

Institutional Care

During the 18th and 19th centuries, hospitals and asylums assumed the care of the mentally ill.  The first hospital to accept and treat mentally ill patients was the Pennsylvania Hospital founded by the Quakers in 1752.  Treatment there was the same as for other patients…clean surroundings, good care and nutrition, fresh air and light…in short the mentally ill were treated as human beings.

Asylums for the Mentally Ill

The word “asylum” means shelter or refuge.  One definition found in the 10th edition of Webster's Dictionary is “an institution for the care of the destitute or sick and especially the insane”.

The first actual mental asylum in America opened in 1769 under the guidance of Benjamin Rush, who became known as “America's first psychiatrist.”

Benjamin Rush, who became known as America's first psychiatrist was a professor at America's first psychiatric hospital in 1769.  This hospital, located in Williamsburg, Virginia was to be the only such institution in the country for fifty years.

Rush graduated from Princeton University at the age of fifteen, and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in his twenties.  Soon after he began to practice medicine he realized that his primary interest was in the treatment of the mentally ill.  He divided the mentally ill roughly into two groups; those who suffered general intellectual derangement and whose problems seemed only partial.

Rush disapproved completely of restraint of any kind, for long periods of time.  He outlawed the use of whips, chains and straitjackets and developed his own methods for keeping control.  Looking at some of his methods, we may feel he was quite harsh, but in his day his methods were considered exceedingly humane.

The tranquilizing chair seen above (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD drawing) was a device intended to heal by lowering the pulse and relaxing the muscles.  It was designed to hold the head, body, arms and legs immobile for long periods of time and enable the patient to settle.

The gyrator, as its name suggests was a contraption similar to a spoke on a wheel.  The patient was strapped to the board head outward and the wheel was rotated at a high rate of speed, sending the blood racing to his head and supposedly relieving his congested brain.

The circulating swing worked similar to the gyrator with the patient bound in place in a sitting position.

Looking back it is obvious the treatments were still primitive, but a change had been made.

Nearly fifty years later America's second asylum was built near Philadelphia by the Quakers and was called “The American Friends' Asylum”.  This asylum, and others that followed embraced the teaching of Englishman William Tuke in providing “moral treatment” for its patients.  No chains were used and violent patients were separated from the others.

In 1841 Dorothy Dix, an American woman, appalled at the conditions in jails and mental institutions where the mentally ill were housed began a forty-year quest to champion the mentally ill.  Through her efforts more than thirty hospitals for indigent patients with mental illnesses were built.

By the mid 1800's many institutions were making the effort to truly help their residents, yet by today's standards their efforts were crude.

Real changes began to occur with the arrival of the twentieth century.  During World War 1 it was discovered that large numbers of soldiers were incapacitated by emotional problems and it was plain to see that not just a few, but many suffered from abnormal behavior.  It was reasoned that if trauma such as the war could cause such widespread symptoms, then it was reasonable to assume lesser trauma, perhaps occurring frequently could produce the same effect.

Mental illnesses began to be recognized as medical in origin and the classification as to type and symptoms proceeded.

In the 1940's and 50's medication was discovered that helped the severely mentally ill. Great hope was placed in these drugs, but it was soon discovered they did not cure the illness, although they were quite successful at ameliorating some of the symptoms. These medicines, the anti psychotics, are still in use today. ECT and insulin therapy was also discovered, and went a long way to helping especially those in depression.  ECT, in a refined and safer mode is also practiced today.

Several serendipitous discoveries in the next several years nearly revolutionized the treatment of the mentally ill. New medications were discovered to help in most cases of severe mental conditions, and more new ones are being found.

Lifelong institutionalization is rare as patients recover enough to be cared for in their own homes and communities. Community help for the mentally ill has progressed enormously in the past even twenty years.

No, we still do not know the cause of the major mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder (manic depression) or clinical depression but treatment is available. Researchers continue to look at the genetics in an attempt to identify the cause. Though it may not come in our time, it will for our children and their children.

The stigma of mental illness has not been eradicated, though the move to equate mental illness with physical illness has resulted in greater understanding on some fronts. We still have a long way to go in this area.


45,000 BC

Among archaeological finds, there are at least 30 cases in which the disease or pathology was so severe, they must have had care in order to survive. These are case studies where direct support or accommodation was necessary (first Peer Support predates medicine by several thousand years). One Neanderthal, Shanidar 1, from a site in Iraq, dating to 45,000 years ago, who died around age 50 with one arm amputated, loss of vision in one eye and other injuries. Another is Windover boy from about 7,500 years ago, found in Florida, who had a severe congenital spinal malformation known as spina bifida, and lived to around age 15. The conclusion is that contrary to popular stereotypes of prehistoric people, under some conditions life 7,500 years ago and longer included an ability and willingness to help and sustain the chronically ill and handicapped. In another well-known case, the skeleton of a teenage boy, Romito 2, found at a site in Italy in the 1980s, and dating to 10,000 years ago, showed a form of severe dwarfism that left the boy with very short arms. His people were nomadic and they lived by hunting and gathering. He didn’t need nursing care, but the group would have had to accept that he couldn’t run at the same pace or participate in hunting in the same way others did. Another case is a skeleton of a young woman about 18 years old from a site on the Arabian Peninsula more than 4,000 years old indicated that the woman had a neuromuscular disease, perhaps polio. Her condition likely made it difficult for her to walk. She had exceedingly thin arm and leg bones with very little buildup of normal muscle attachments. She probably received round-the-clock care. But one problem that she had was apparently not a result of the disease. The teeth that she had were full of cavities, and she was “missing teeth from abscesses and periodontal disease. Those who cared for the young woman may have been too kind. Her people grew dates, and, perhaps to make her happy, they fed her a lot of sticky, gummy dates, which eventually just rotted her teeth out, unusual for someone so young.

33,000 BC

Dogs have been domesticated since approximately 33,000 years ago. Research shows that Dogs are the only animals in the animal kingdom that can read the emotions on your face much like humans. In other words dogs can tell at a glance if we are happy, angry or sad just by looking at our faces. Research shows that by petting a dog you help lower your blood pressure.

10,000 BC

In prehistoric times there was, as far as historians can tell, no division between medicine, magic and religion. In the Stone Age there is evidence of trepanning the skull, and also that parts of the cut skull were used as amulets.  Study of cave drawings indicates that mesolithic people utilized a magical law relating to all human activities of the time, by which they made sense of the world. A cave painting in Ariege, France, shows a strange being with human feet and hands and antlers who has been identified as a 'psychiatrist (witch doctor)', but it is not clear how this identification has been made. Katherine Darton's Notes of the history of mental health care” begins in 10,000 BC. She says "in prehistoric times there was, as far as historians can tell, no division between medicine, magic and religion." History of Mental Illness at the University of Derby begins some 10,000 years ago with trepanning - possibly to let evil spirits out, but this was before written records.

5,000 BC

Attempts to treat mental illness date back as early as 5000 BCE as evidenced by the discovery of trephined skulls in regions that were home to ancient world cultures

3,500 BC

The Disability Social History Project's Disability Social History Timeline begins in 3,500 BC with an account of the fitting of an artificial limb the Rig-Veda (sacred poem of India written in Sanskrit between 3500 and 1800 B.C. The Rig-Veda, an ancient sacred poem of India, is said to be the first written record of a prosthesis. Written in Sanskrit between 3500 and 1800 B.C., it recounts the story of a warrior, Queen Vishpla, who lost her leg in battle, was fitted with an iron prosthesis, and returned to battle.

3,100 BC

The Society of Laingian Studies' Timeline in the treatment of Madness begins in 3,100BC when "Menes, the founder of the 1st Dynasty writes The Secret Book of the Heart, describing 3 kinds of healers, the physician, the priest and the sorcerer".

2,850 BC

At Memphis, the temple of Imhotep, a great Egyptian healer who was deified, became a medical school where patients received sleep therapy, occupational therapy, excursions on the Nile, concerts, dances and painting. There were carefully worded malpractice laws and detailed clinical treatises; however psychiatric theory was largely magical, and successful treatments were attributed to amulets worn or to the patron god.

2,000 BC

The Talmud is full of psychological commentary. Rabbi Hunah stated that good men have bad dreams, implying that dreams are a safety valve for wishes repressed by moral principles. Judaism also suggested that sickness and madness were punishments for sins. In the Old Testament, Saul suffered from suicidal depression, Nebuchadnezzar had a psychotic fear of being a wolf, and Ezekial was coprophagic (eating of feces or dung), while David feigned madness to escape from the King of Gath. One effect of Hebrew psychiatry was that the religion of one God caused a lot of magical ideas to be discarded. However, despite the caring of the Hebrews, and the building of a special hospital for mentally ill people, statements like, 'a wizard shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones' were to be used in an inhumane way for centuries. Deuteronomy names insanity as one of the many curses that God will inflict on those who do not obey Him: 'the Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart'. Saul's psychotic episodes were attributed to an evil spirit sent by the Lord, and treated with music therapy: 'And it came to pass, when the evil spirit was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.' Rabbi Asi in ancient Judea recommended that disturbed patients should talk freely about their worries.

1792-1750 BC

King Hammurabi of Babylon issues the Code of Hammurabi, which creates the first code of laws: 3,600 lines of cuneiform, written on a diorite column, include protection of widows, orphans, and the weak against the strong. In Mesopotamia, according to the code of Hammurabi preserved in Cuneiform clay tablets, priest-physicians dealt especially with mental disturbance which was attributed to demonic possession, whilst 'lay' physicians dealt solely with physical injury. This was the first known division between mental and physical symptoms. These priest-physicians, the Asu, used psychotherapy, and studied dreams that were regarded as showing the will of the gods. Every physician had his own god and every disease its own demon. Diseases and drugs were codified, and the doctor was responsible for his patient, whose life story was studied in a holistic approach.

1550 BC

Description: A page from the Ebers Papyrus.

The Ebers papyrus, one of the most important medical papyri of ancient Egypt, briefly mentioned clinical depression. In 1550 BC, the Egyptians wrote a book of medicine. It is likely a copy of a much older book, but it is quite fascinating to realize just how much the ancients knew about the human body and various diseases. While the cures were no better than a witches brew with "eye of newt", they did understand the various diseases. The only reference to anything coming close to psychiatry is in the section on the heart where anger and sadness are discussed. Biopsychiatrists love to quote the papyrus as proof that the Egyptians believed depression was caused by bodily diseases. But this is simply untrue. In fact the opposite is true. The Egyptians understood that anger and sadness caused body diseases in the heart. The papyrus reads: "When his Heart is afflicted and has tasted sadness, behold his Heart is closed in and darkness is in his body because of anger which is eating up his Heart."

900 BC

Ed Brown's annotated cases at Brown Medical School - archives begins with the feigned madness of David who became king of the Jews (9th century BC)

800 BC

The insanity defense, i.e., the forgiveness of criminal liability due to presence of a mental illness that impairs judgment or behavior, can be found in ancient Greek mythology. In the extensive myths concerning the demi-god Hercules, he is said later in his life to have killed his wife and three children due to a curse from the goddess Hera. Despite this massacre being witnessed by the town's people, he was nevertheless deemed to be nonculpable due to the mental confusion caused by the curse. That is, he was truly unaware that his acts were wrong and/or he was unable to conform his conduct to the law. This is precisely the formula of the modern "insanity defense." Accordingly, Hercules was found to be in need of care and treatment by his best friend, Amphitryon, and the townspeople, and he was given sympathetic counseling to prevent his own subsequent attempted suicide upon regaining his mental competency and realizing what he had done.

According to Homer, an eminent specialist, Melampus, pioneered the use of white hellebore for treating delusions, and Greek comedies frequently satirized the taking of the drug, which was considered a panacea. An eminent physician, Aesculapius, developed a form of sleep-therapy in luxurious surroundings, taking great care with patients' diet and exercise.  Aesculapian temples, named after him, were built in places of particular beauty or near springs with medicinal waters, and there patients with psychological problems could be cared for and encouraged to sleep, with the suggestion that Aeculapius would appear in their dreams to cure them. The Asklepeia were ancient Greek dream hospitals where priests would prescribe treatment based on the patients' dreams.

735 BC

During the reign of Romulus in Rome, wife beating is accepted and condoned under The Laws of Chastisement. Under these laws, the husband has absolute rights to physically discipline his wife. Since by law a husband is held liable for crimes committed by his wife, this law was designed to protect the husband from harm caused by the wife's actions. These laws permit the husband to beat his wife with a rod or switch as long as its circumference is no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb, hence "The Rule of Thumb." The tradition of these laws is perpetuated in English Common Law and throughout most of Europe.

600 BC

Many cities had temples to Asklepios known as an Asklepieion that provided cures for psychosomatic illnesses

600-500 BC

Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), teaches that all other forms of righteousness "are not worth the sixteenth part of the emancipation of the heart through love and charity." In India, Buddha attributed human thoughts to our sensations and perceptions, which, he said, gradually and automatically combine into ideas.  In China, Confucius said, 'A man can command his principles; principles do not master the man', and 'learning undigested by thought is labor lost; thought unassisted by learning is perilous'. In Greece, either Solon or Thales (sources differ) gave the famous advice, 'Know thyself'.

Witch doctors in Africa could only qualify for their profession by first having undergone convulsions and sickness themselves and a thorough exposure of their dreams.

Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus (whichever), in the 6th century BC, is the earliest in Joan's mad monarchs series

500-400 BC


The Talmud, a vast compilation of Oral Laws of Jews, prescribes exactly how charitable funds are collected and distributed, including the appointment of tax collectors to administer the system.

460-379 BC

Earliest records of the study and practice of alchemy among the Greeks of Asia Minor. It was long thought among the Magi that the various metals were connected with their astrological properties, but the goal of the alchemist was the pursuit of a "stone which isn't a stone"1 reflected in the mystic's aim to free the soul from the evil confines of matter and return it to God.

430 BC

“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” Hippocrates, called the “Father of Medicine,” who was born in 460BC at Kos wrote 76 treatises which are still considered to be the foundations of modern medicine and psychiatry. Hippocrates (460-377 BC), influenced by humoral theory, proposed a triad of mental disorders termed melancholia, mania and phrenitis (an acute mental disorder accompanied by fever). He also spoke of other disorders such as phobia, and is credited with being the first physician to reject supernatural or divine explanations of illness. He believed that disease was the product of environmental factors, diet and living habits, not a punishment inflicted by the gods, and that the appropriate treatment depended on which bodily fluid, or humour, had caused the problem. However, he also objected to speculation about the etiology of madness (for example that it was seated in the heart and diaphragm or "phren") and favoured instead close behavioural observation. He treats mental disorders as diseases to be understood in terms of disturbed physiology, rather than reflections of the displeasure of the gods or evidence of demonic possession, as they were often treated in Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman writings. Hippocrates recommended that the treatment of mental illness should be conducted in an asylum, i.e., a secure and safe retreat from the chaos, pressures and impure environment of crowded urban centers rather than having persons with mental illness whipped in public, or incarcerated in dungeon-like buildings. Later, Greek medical writers set out treatments for mentally ill people that include quiet, occupation, and the use of drugs such as the purgative hellebore. Family members care for most people with mental illness in ancient times. He described melancholia, postpartum psychosis, mania, phobias and paranoia, and was called as a psychiatric witness in trials. Hippocrates also believed that thoughts and feelings occur in the brain, rather than the heart as was often thought, and classified personality in terms of the four humors – fluids which in health were naturally equal in proportion (pepsis). When the four humors, blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm, were not in balance (dyscrasia, meaning “bad mixture”), a person would become sick and remain that way until the balance was somehow restored. Hippocratic therapy was directed towards restoring this balance. For instance, using citrus was thought to be beneficial when phlegm was overabundant. Hippocrates is credited with being the first physician to reject superstitions, legends and beliefs that credited supernatural or divine forces with causing illness. Hippocrates was credited by the disciples of Pythagoras of allying philosophy and medicine.  He separated the discipline of medicine from religion, believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits. Indeed there is not a single mention of a mystical illness in the entirety of the Hippocratic Corpus. Hippocratic medicine was humble and passive. The therapeutic approach was based on “the healing power of nature” (“vis medicatrix naturae” in Latin). According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance the four humors and heal itself (physis).  Hippocratic therapy focused on simply easing this natural process. To this end, Hippocrates believed “rest and immobilization [were] of capital importance”.  In general, the Hippocratic medicine was very kind to the patient; treatment was gentle, and emphasized keeping the patient clean and sterile. For example, only clean water or wine were ever used on wounds, though “dry” treatment was preferable. Soothing balms were sometimes employed. Hippocrates was reluctant to administer drugs and engage in specialized treatment that might prove to be wrongly chosen; generalized therapy followed a generalized diagnosis. However, potent drugs were used on certain occasions. This passive approach was very successful in treating relatively simple ailments such as broken bones which required traction to stretch the skeletal system and relieve pressure on the injured area. Hippocrates believed the brain was involved in sensation and was as well the center of intelligence, argued that psychological disorders originated from natural reasons as other diseases, rather than reflections of the displeasure of the gods or evidence of demonic possession, and defined such clinical pictures as mania and melancholia. He further pointed out the relationship between the human brain and epilepsias and mentioned dementia Greek medical writers set out treatments for mentally ill people that include quiet, occupation, and the use of drugs such as the purgative hellebore.

400 BC

Plato, Greek student of Socrates, proposed a view of the soul (psyche) as a charioteer driving two horses, one noble, the other driven by base desires. Plato (427-347 BC) argued that there were two types of mental illness: "divinely inspired" mental illness that gave the person prophetic powers, and a second type that was caused by a physical disease. The charioteer struggles to balance their conflicting impulses.  This is similar to Freud's theory of the superego, ego and id. Plato also discussed the origin of dreams, as well as the nature of sexual sublimation. In “The Laws” Plato also describes the place where those who did not measure up to the Greek ideal should be set aside. This was the earliest known description of what were to later to be places of isolation, a model for both asylums as well as German Concentration Camps in World War II. In ancient Greece and Rome, madness was associated stereotypically with aimless wandering and violence. However, Socrates considered positive aspects including prophesying (a ‘manic art’); mystical initiations and rituals; poetic inspiration; and the madness of lovers. Now often seen as the very epitome of rational thought and as the founder of philosophy, Socrates freely admitted to experiencing what are now called "command hallucinations" (then called his ‘daemon’). Pythagoras also heard voices. Socrates (in Plato's The Republic) recommends that "the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be." In 387 BC Plato suggested that the brain is the mechanism of mental processes.

384-322 BC

Aristotle (384-322 BC), who studied under Plato, abandoned the divinely caused mental illness theory, and proposed instead that all mental illness was caused by physical problems. Aristotle said those "born deaf become senseless and incapable of reason." Aristotle recognizes man as a social animal who necessarily must cooperate with and assist his fellow man. Aristotle showed an awareness of the importance of genetic inheritance, and saw mental growth as a sequence of cause and effect: aspirations influence behavior and thus become causes. Aristotle saw actions, feelings and thoughts as a single unit. His awareness of the potential for change and his image of a self-actualized person accords with Erich Fromm's description. Aristotle, like Meyer, also believed in the concept of total reactions, rather than separating man's faculties. Aristotle said those "born deaf become senseless and incapable of reason." Arateus antedated modern concepts of mental disease as extensions of normal personality traits. The concept of personal will and ego and of emotional and rational behavior was defined by Pythagorus. Aristophanes' plays include classic Freudian free-association sessions, beginning 'come onto the couch'. It was Aristotle who not only defined the legal principle of informed consent which is essentially unchanged to this day, but also defined the two essential powers of a democratic government which are found in our own culture and law and underlie the two legal justifications for civil commitment of certain persons who are mentally ill. Aristotle, in his work the Nicomachean Ethics, essentially defined informed consent as a person's actions which are done with knowledge, rationality and without coercion. Informed consent in modern law - whether it concerns medical consent, involuntary psychiatric commitment or medication, the ability to enter into marriage or a contract, or whether a confession was voluntarily given to the police, etc. - is still a matter of a person's ability to receive and absorb the relevant knowledge, intelligently evaluate the risk and benefits of the decision, and to be free from any coercion. These same three legal elements still form the basis of court decisions, statutes, and they were endorsed by the Report of President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and on Biomedical and Behavioral Research. In terms of the government's role in society, Aristotle postulated that the government has two basic powers: the police power to protect its citizens from danger and harm (known as the "police power"), and its parens patriae power (a later Latin term applied to this concept by Roman Law) to help those in need of parental-type care, i.e., sustenance, protection, nurturing, and education. In other words, under parens patriae power, it is the government's responsibility to act as the ultimate parent of all citizens of the country who have no immediate family or friends to help them in times of need. These two powers respectively underlie and justify the two traditional forms of involuntary civil commitment. Aristotle believed the heart was the centre of intelligence and that the brain was a kind of radiator that cooled the blood that was overheated by a seething heart, which explained man's rational temperament. In 335 BC Aristotle suggested that the heart is the mechanism of mental processes.

280 BC

Theophrastus, having "...a long time observed the divers dispositions of men, having now lived ninety-nine years, conversed with all sorts of natures bad and good, and comparing them togither..." writes The Characters, the original DSM, comprised of exactly 28 personality disorders. The work contains thirty brief, vigorous, and trenchant outlines of moral types, which form a most valuable picture of the life of his time, and in fact of human nature in general.

Greek physician and philosopher Herophilus studied the nervous system and distinguished between sensory nerves and motor nerves. His work on blood and its movements led him to study and analyze the brain. He proposed that the brain housed the intellect rather than the heart. He was the first person to differentiate between the cerebrum and the cerebellum and to place individual importance on each portion. He looked more in depth into the network of nerves located in the cranium. He described the optic nerve and the oculomotor nerve for sight and eye movement. Through his dissection of the eye, he discovered the different sections and layers of the eye: the cornea, the retina, the iris, and the choroid also known as the choroid coat. Further study of the cranium led him to describe the calamus scriptorius which he believed was the seat of the human soul. Analysis of the nerves in the cranium allowed him to differentiate between nerves and blood vessels and to discover the differences between motor and sensory nerves. He believed that the sensory and motor nerves shot out from the brain and that the neural transmissions occurred by means of pneuma. Part of his belief system regarding the human body involved the pneuma, which he believed was a substance that flowed through the arteries along with the blood. Playing off of medical beliefs at the time, Herophilos stated that diseases occurred when an excess of one of the four humors impeded the pneuma from reaching the brain.

250 BC

Greek anatomist Erasistratus studied the brain and distinguished between the cerebrum and cerebellum. He considered atoms to be the essential body element, and he believed they were vitalized by the pneuma that circulated through the nerves. He also thought that the nerves moved a nervous spirit from the brain. He then differentiated between the function of the sensory and motor nerves, and linked them to the brain. He is credited with one of the first in-depth descriptions of the cerebrum and cerebellum.

218 BC

Marcus Sergius, a Roman general who led his legion against Carthage (presently Tunis) in the Second Punic War, sustained 23 injuries and a right arm amputation. An iron hand was fashioned to hold his shield and he was able to go back to battle. He was denied a chance to be a priest because one needed two normal hands.

202 BC

At the end of the Punic Wars, the family structure changes giving women more freedoms, including property rights and the right to sue their husbands for unjustified beatings. 

120-70 BC

Asclepiades introduced humane treatment of the mentally deranged; some of those treatments were based on interpreting dreams, described and defined the errors in perception and reasoning of the insane and emphasized the point that they should be treated under favorable environmental conditions

110 BC

To elicit the state of mind of the mentally disturbed person, Cicero designed an interview format that contained the following items:

1. Nomen (clan/tribe, region, connections)

2. Natura (sex, nationality, family status age, physique)

3. Victus (education, association, habits/life-style)

4. Fortuna (rich/poor, free/slave, social class)

5. Habitus (appearance)

6. Affectio (passions, emotions, temperament)

7. Studium (interests)

8. Consilium (motivation)

9. Factum (working history)

10. Casus (significant life events)

11. Orationes (form and content of discourse)

This assessment tool was used throughout the Roman Empire, was still used by the Celtic monasteries in the following centuries and continued in use until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century (i.e for about 1600 years). Cicero rejected the concept of the four humors, saying that melancholia was caused, not by black bile, as Hippocrates had suggested, but by violent rage, fear and grief.

Through long contact with Greek culture, and their eventual conquest of Greece, the Romans absorbed many Greek (and other) ideas on medicine.[9] The humoral theory fell out of favor in some quarters. The Greek physician Asclepiades (c. 124 – 40 BC), who practiced in Rome, discarded it and advocated humane treatments, and had insane persons freed from confinement and treated them with natural therapy, such as diet and massages. Arateus (ca AD 30-90) argued that it is hard to pinpoint where a mental illness comes from. However, Galen (AD 129 –ca. 200), practicing in Greece and Rome, revived humoral theory.[6] Galen, however, adopted a single symptom approach rather than broad diagnostic categories, for example studying separate states of sadness, excitement, confusion and memory loss.[7]

Playwrights such as Homer, Sophocles and Euripides described madmen driven insane by the Gods, imbalanced humors or circumstances. As well as the triad (of which mania was often used as an overarching term for insanity) there were a variable and overlapping range of terms for such things as delusion, eccentricity, frenzy, and lunacy. Physician Celsus argued that insanity is really present when a continuous dementia begins due to the mind being at the mercy of imaginings. He suggested that people must heal their own souls through philosophy and personal strength. He described common practices of dietetics, bloodletting, drugs, talking therapy, incubation in temples, exorcism, incantations and amulets, as well as restraints and "tortures" to restore rationality, including starvation, being terrified suddenly, agitation of the spirit, and stoning and beating. Most, however, did not receive medical treatment but stayed with family or wandered the streets, vulnerable to assault and derision. Accounts of delusions from the time included people who thought themselves to be famous actors or speakers, animals, inanimate objects, or one of the gods. Some were arrested for political reasons, such as Jesus ben Ananias who was eventually released as a madman after showing no concern for his own fate during torture. It has been argued that Jesus of Nazareth was widely considered a dangerous madman, due partly to antisocial and disruptive outbursts including physical aggression, grandiose and nonsensical claims, and terse responses to official questioning - and may have been mocked as a king and crucified for that reason.

43 BC

vid by Ettore Ferrari, 1887

March 20 in the year 43 BC Birth date of Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as Ovid. He is especially famous for his 15-volume Metamorphoses, based on stories from classic mythology. But here I include him because of the Tristia poems he wrote about 10 AD, two years after Roman emperor August had him exiled to the town of Tomis (present-day Constantza, a Black Sea port in Romania). Even experts are not sure about why Ovid was forced into exile. Some of the Tristia poems are fine examples of someone describing symptoms of depression – 2,000 years ago. Of course we can dispute whether Ovid’s depression does qualify as a form of mental illness, as in his case there was a very clear external reason for feeling depressed: his exile, his nostalgic longing for home. On the other hand, doesn’t the word “homesick” also suggest illness? And of course we could also, after the fact, interpret Ovid’s exile as a metaphor for depression. Isn’t depression a kind of permanent, hopeless exile from the happier world of our family and friends? Ovid’s troubles lasted until his death. He died in exile in Tomis, about 17 AD (when he was 60).

40 BC

Asclepiades was a Greek doctor who practiced in Rome, using a form of physiotherapy designed to move the oppositely charged 'atoms' of which the human body was formed. He invented a swinging bed which had a relaxing effect on emotionally disturbed patients, found music helpful, and spoke out strongly against incarceration of mentally ill people. He disliked the term 'insanity', referring to 'passions of sensations', and differentiated between hallucinations and delusions. Asclepiades waged a strong campaign against bleeding, which in fact went on for another 1500 years.


In the last years before Christ the influence of enlightened views of the Roman doctors began to decline, and Cornelius Celcus (25BC-50AD) recommended starvation, fetters and flogging and anything 'which thoroughly agitates the spirit'.  He reinstated the idea that some illnesses were caused by the anger of the gods, and his words were used in the Middle Ages to justify the burning of witches. A contemporary of Christ's, he defends the idea that force had to be applied during treatment of insane. To him, the insane had to be punished with famines, fetters and beating, asserting that a sudden sense of fear could cause the insane to recover.


Pliny the Elder, the great Roman naturalist (who asserted that the Earth was a sphere and the heavens unfathomable) composes in 37 volumes a Natural History, devoting many of the volumes to the medicinal properties of plants and herbs, animals and the human body's own products, as well as the uses of charms in healing the afflictions of mind and body.


Christianity, a martyr's church during its first 250 years, in its religious writings cites Jesus Christ as teaching people's love for one another as God's will. The writings emphasize sympathy for poor, disabled, and dispossessed people. Recognized in law in the 4th century the Canon Law was codified in the 12th century to provide an elaborate discussion of the theory and practice of charity.


The use of nonconvulsive electrotherapy as a method for alleviating symptoms through suggestion dates back to Scribonius Largus (c. A.D. 47), who treated the headaches of the Roman emperor with an electric eel.


The Roman, Aretaeus, an eclectic medical philosopher, established the fact that manic and depressive states occur in the same individual and that lucid intervals exist between manic and depressive episodes. He also understood that not everyone with mental illness is destined to suffer intellectual deterioration, a fact not adequately emphasized until the twentieth century, if then, and he was very concerned about the welfare of his patients, understanding the undesirability of treatments that patients find unacceptable. He abandoned terms relating to the four humors and gave clear descriptions of emotional states. The Romans tended to concentrate on pleasant physical therapies: warm baths, massage, diet, well-lighted and pleasant rooms, and music. They also used shocks by electric eels.


Galen, Greek physician, born AD 129 in Pergamum, in what is now Turkey. He died about AD 216. His massive writings on medicine included the theory of the humours or body fluids (like blood) whose preponderance had a marked affect on a person's health and personality. (i.e., melancholy). Galen (129-200) was an anatomist rather than a physician, and borrowed ideas from many sources. He dedicated many of his writings to a Creator, a fact that led to his having a far greater influence over the Christian world in later centuries than his work perhaps merited, and helped to retard the development of medicine. As physician to the gladiators, Galen, (Claudius Galeno) who was also a writer, likely observed first-hand the consequences of brain and spinal injury. He dissected many animals and believed as Hippocrates did that the brain was the center of intelligence. His views on the role of the cerebrum and cerebellum prevailed for close to 1,500 years.


Soranus of Ephesus lived in the second century A.D. in Rome, and was a physician of Greek extraction. His recommendations for treatment of mental illness were more advanced than some employed fifteen hundred years later. He belonged to the "methodist" school of physicians (related to the philosophers Heraclitus and Epicurus) believing that the human body is composed of atoms constantly in motion. He theorized that disease was caused by a disturbance or an irregularity of these atoms. In light of the recent revelation that much of schizophrenia might be caused by a disturbance to chromosome number six, Soranus' view was remarkably close to the latest findings on the possible causes of some mental illness. Follower of Asclepiades, Soranus of Ephesus, said that patients should be kept in light, airy conditions, should not be beaten, kept in the dark or given poppy to make them drowsy, and he stressed the importance of convalescence and aftercare. He also took social background and culture into account and insisted on the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Although he described mental distress in terms of an organic disturbance he treated it by psychological methods, minimizing the use of drugs and other physical treatments. But he also suggested that mania should be treated with the alkaline waters of the town. These waters contained high levels of lithium salts. Lithium treatment was rediscovered for manic depression by John Cade, an Australian psychiatrist, in 1948. Soranus described two kinds of mental illness, mania and melancholy, which are what we now call schizophrenia and depression. Although the actual treatments of Soranus' time included confinement in a dark room, flogging, starvation diet, making a patient drunk, and inducing sleep with drugs and opium, he dismissed these treatments as futile and haphazard. Rather, Soranus recommended treatments that included patients be: kept in rooms with modest light and adequate warmth and always on the ground floor to prevent suicide attempts; put on a simple diet with regular exercise; and restrained only if necessary, and if so, with bonds made of wool or soft materials to prevent injury. He also recommended that to avoid unnecessary injury, the servants who restrained them should use their hands and not clubs or other instruments. Soranus thought that the patient should be engaged in intellectual activities not only for therapeutic purposes but to detect the progress of the illness; accordingly, patients should be encouraged to talk to philosophers to "banish their fear and sorrow."(


The Church fathers re-establish the husband's patriarchal authority and the patriarchal values of Roman and Jewish law. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, has his wife burned alive when she is no longer of use to him. 


When the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine of Hippo developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name), distinct from the material Earthly City. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. Augustine's City of God was closely identified with the segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople. Augustine writes The City of God in part to respond to claims that Rome fell because it had abandoned paganism. Augustine's arguments against magic, differentiating it from miracle, were crucial in the early Church's fight against paganism and became a central thesis in the later denunciation of witches and witchcraft.


Caelius Aurelianus announces that devils were existing in the appearance of male or female human beings, whose primary task was to deceive the opposite sex, issuing in the centuries to follow of murder of thousands of the insane for the purpose of getting rid of the evil-souls and devils that possess them.


Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina, the beginning of Islam. The Koran, the book considered to be the revelation of God to Muhammad and the foundation of the religion Islam, sets forth five duties, the third of which is to give, prescribed alms generously and also to give some alms beyond the minimum.


Boniface brings Anglo-Saxon Christianity to the pagans in Germany, cutting down the pagan's sacred tree to build a church out of it


Hospitals in Islamic History by Dr Hossam Arafa "The first known hospital in Islam was built in Damascus in 706 AD". After 750 - Al-Fustat Hospital, Cairo, 872.

Hospitals for the so-called "insane" were established by the eighth century in Arabic countries (an asylum in Fez, Morocco early in the eighth century).


Baghdad Academy of Science founded


Rhazes (865-925), called 'the Persian Galen' (but 700 years later), was chief physician at Baghdad hospital where there was a psychiatric ward, and, because the Arabs had no fear of demons, patients were kindly treated. They used the writings of Galen and Aristotle to guide them, and appear to have made use of forms of behavior therapy.


In the Islamic world, the Bimaristans were described by European travelers, who wrote on their wonder at the care and kindness shown to lunatics. Ahmad ibn Tulun built a hospital in Cairo that provided care to the insane which included music therapy.

Middle Ages (900 – 1300)

In Europe, squires and noblemen beat their wives as regularly as they beat their serfs; the peasants faithfully followed their lords' example. The Church sanctions the subjection of women. Priests advise abused wives to win their husbands' good will through increased devotion and obedience. The habit of looking upon women as a species apart, without the same feelings and capacity for suffering which men possess, becomes inbred during the Middle Ages. In a Medieval theological manual, a man is given permission to "castigate his wife and beat her for correction…” 


Leechdom, Wortcunning and Star Craft of Early England, a collection of herbal prescriptions, gives remedies for melancholia, hallucinations, mental vacancy, dementia, and folly.


Pūr Sinɑʼ (Persian ابن سینا or ابو علی‌ سینا or پور سينا Pur-e Sina; [ˈpuːr ˈsiːnɑː] "son of Sina"; August c. 980 – June 1037), commonly known as Ibn Sīnā, or in Arabic writing Abū ʿAlī al-usayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Sīnā (Arabic أبو علي الحسين بن عبد الله بن سينا) or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 works on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving works concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine. His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text at many medieval universities. The Canon of Medicine was used as a textbook in the universities of Montpellier and Leuven as late as 1650. Ibn Sīnā's Canon of Medicine provides an overview of all aspects of medicine according to the principles of Galen (and Hippocrates). His corpus also includes writing on philosophy, astronomy, alchemy, geology, psychology, Islamic theology, logic, mathematics, physics, as well as poetry. He is regarded as the most famous and influential polymath of the Islamic Golden Age. In The Canon of Medicine, Avicenna described a number of conditions, including melancholia. He described melancholia as a depressive type of mood disorder in which the person may become suspicious and develop certain types of phobias.Avicenna (Ibn Sina) suggests that the three ventricles of the brain perform five distinct cognitives processes: common sense, imagination, cogitation, estimation and memory. His Canon of Medicine, which asserted the fundamentals of neuroanatomy, was in use as a textbook in Europe and the East as late as the 17th century. His treatise De Anima, discusses the relationship of body and soul in man and the causes of melancholy, and advocated only humane treatment of the insane. Avicenna was the first to employ analytical treatment, including use of a free association method, in his treatment of the insane. Persian physician Avicenna recognized "physiological psychology" in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings.

In Salerno University, Constantinus Africanus (1020-1087) a Jew who became a Christian translated Hippocrates from Arabic into Latin. Once again the nervous system was examined and the brain seen as the seat of mental illness. Hydrotherapy was used.


Medieval laymen had more enlightened attitudes toward mental health problems than did professionals, for poetry and other literature present very realistic views of the subject. The poems Amadas (late 12th century), and also Tristan both indicate an understanding of the idea that emotional crises may result in severe emotional disorders and that they may be corrected by a realistic psychological approach.




Date given for "an asylum exclusively for sufferers from mental diseases at Mets" (Metz, northern France) (Catholic Encyclopedia)




“In the patient let me ever see only the person.” -- From the Oath of Maimonides (Moses Maimonides 1135-1204)



Geel, Belgium becomes an established place of pilgrimage and settlement for the mentally ill, it survives the centuries and still exists as a therapeutic community, although in modern times under the supervision of medical authorities.

Ch'an Buddhism spreads from China to Japan where it is called (at least in translation) Zen Buddhism

Universities of Paris and Oxford founded




The Children's Crusade. Children marched in tens of thousands from Germany and France to Italy, believing that they could free the Holy Land supernaturally because they were pure in heart. Most of them were drowned, murdered, or sold into slavery




King John of England signs the Magna Carta, forerunner of modern civil rights documents. The original of the Magna Carta documents is signed and issued in Runnymede, England. The Charter, also called Magna Carta Libertatum, required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today. Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited. The modern right of due process traces its lineage directly to the Magna Carta. In the Magna Carta of 1215, the king relinquished some of his sovereignty to the courts of law when government actions affected a citizen's liberty or property. The same principle is what basically underlies the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.


Bethlehem Royal Hospital established in Bishopsgate outside the wall of London; later, one of the most famous old psychiatric hospitals was founded as a priory of the Order of St. Mary of Bethlem to collect alms for Crusaders; after the English government secularized it (confiscated by King Edward III), it started admitting mental patients by 1377, becoming known as Bedlam Hospital; in 1547 it was acquired by the City of London, operating until 1948; it is now part of the British NHS Foundation Trust. Bethlem Royal Hospital of London is a psychiatric hospital at Beckenham in the London Borough of Bromley. Although no longer in its original location and buildings, it is recognised as the world's first and oldest institution to specialize in the mentally ill. It has been variously known as St. Mary Bethlehem, Bethlem Hospital, Bethlehem Hospital and Bedlam. Bethlem has been a part of London since 1247, first as a priory for the sisters and brethren of the Order of the Star of Bethlehem, from where the building took its name. Its first site was in Bishopsgate (where Liverpool Street station now stands). In 1337 it became a hospital, and it admitted some mentally ill patients from 1357, but did not become a dedicated psychiatric hospital until later. Early sixteenth century maps show Bedlam, next to Bishopsgate, as a courtyard with a few stone buildings, a church and a garden. Conditions were consistently dreadful, and the care amounted to little more than restraint. The hospital was small; in 1403-4, it held six “insane” patients and three “sane” patient. In the 1600’s there were about 30 patients and the noise was “so hideous, so great; that they are more able to drive a man that hath his wits rather out of them.” Violent or dangerous patients were manacled and chained to the floor or wall. Some were allowed to leave, and licensed to beg. It was a Royal hospital, but controlled by the City of London after 1557, and managed by the Governors of Bridewell. Day to day management was in the hands of a Keeper, who received payment for each patient from their parish, livery company, or relatives. In 1598 an inspection showed neglect; the “Great Vault” (cesspit) badly needed emptying, and the kitchen drains needed replacing. There were 20 patients there, one of whom had been there over 25 years. In 1676, it was replaced by the larger Moorfields Bedlam.


Pietro Albano (1250-1316) was burned to death by the Inquisition for minimizing spiritual principles in his attempt to unite Aristotle's thinking with the medical facts.


Al- Mansuri Hospital, Cairo opened. At some time, this had music therapy for its mental patients.


Dave Sheppard's Development of Mental Health Law and Practice begins in 1285 with a case that linked "the instigation of the devil" and being "frantic and mad"


De Praerogativa Regis, the Act giving the King (or, possibly, regulating and already established) custody of the lands of natural fools and wardship of the property of the insane, may have been drawn up between 1255 and 1290. This is part of feudal law relating to the idea that all land is by gift from the highest lord (in England, the King). Until the English civil war and interregnum, all land reverted to the king on the chief tenant's death, to be reclaimed by any lawful heir on payment of a fee. The King's Officers, throughout the country, who regulated these affairs were called "Escheators." Escheators also held the inquisitions to determine if a land holder was a lunatic or idiot.


The Black Death. 1/3 of the population from India to Iceland is wiped out, including about 1/2 of Britain

Casting out devils becomes the common treatment for the mentally ill

Medieval laymen had more enlightened attitudes toward mental health problems than did professionals, for poetry and other literature present very realistic views of the subject.

It was not until the 14th century that people with mental health problems were considered witches and again became victims of persecution. The physical care of the insane was better in the early middle ages than it was during the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early days of the Bethlehem hospital (Bedlam), which began to care for people with mental health problems in the 12th century, patients were treated with concern, and were issued with arm badges to wear so that they could be returned to hospital if their symptoms should recur. Apparently vagrants sometimes counterfeited the badges so that they could be taken for former patients of Bethlem.

Ironically, witchhunts began at the dawn of the Renaissance (1300-1700), provoked at least in part by anxiety about the sexual activities of some monks and nuns. The Church needed to take action against this and the blame fell upon women who stirred men's passions and were therefore seen as agents of the devil. At the same time severe plague killed 50 per cent of the population in Europe, leading to a conviction among some groups that it was sent as punishment for sin. These groups therefore practiced self-flagellation and humiliation to relieve their guilt. In the 15th century the ideology of the mass movement of witch hunting was codified in the Malleus Maleficorum, a gruesome and pornographic book. It consisted of three main parts, the first a collection of arguments in support of the existence of witches and witchcraft, concluding that to doubt their existence was to be a heretic; the second describing witches and how they may be identified; the third concerned with their treatment. A lot of the information was about deviant behavior, much of it overtly sexual. This was at least partly due to the belief that insanity was caused by possession by the devil, and a devil possessed a witch by copulating with her. As the ultimate salvation of the immortal soul was more important than the comforts of the possessed body, physical punishments such as drowning and burning were used to make the body an intolerable refuge for the devil. The wide dissemination of this book was greatly facilitated by the development of printing, and it ran into 10 editions. Another obvious and kinder treatment for the supposed possession was exorcism which often succeeded.  

Some enlightened care was offered in monasteries. The Sisters of the Society of Hospitalers created hospitals offering good food, rest and calm, and a Franciscan monk, Bartholemew Anglicus in his book De Proprietatibis Rerum, prescribed music and occupation for depressed patients and sleep and gentle binding for frenzied patients. There was no hint of demonology.


A section of a hospital was set aside for the “insane” in Europe.


The Statute of Labourers, the first national level English law to control the movement of laborers, fixes a maximum wage and treats poor people as criminals, thus influencing colonial poor laws.


Robert Denton, chaplain, obtained a license from King Edward III (paying 40 shillings for the license) to found a hospital in a house of his own in the parish of Berking Church, London, "for the men and women in the sad city who suddenly fall into a frenzy and lose their memory, who were to reside there until cured; with an oratory to the said hospital to the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary", establishing the first “peer respite” household, predating the opening of Bedlam by close to 200 years.


Sometime before her death in around 1438, Margery Kempe wrote The Autobiography of Margery Kempe, the first written record of a person having a vision and recovering from that vision. It is also believed to be first autobiography written in English.


The Christian church vacillates between support of wife beating and encouraging husbands to be more compassionate and using moderation in their punishments of their wives. A medieval Christian scholar, Friar Cherbubino of Siena, writes Rules of Marriage, in support of wife beating. 

In general, medieval Europeans allow the mentally ill their freedom -- granted they are not dangerous. However, less enlightened treatment of people with mental disorders is also prevalent, with those people often labeled as witches and assumed to be inhabited by demons. Some religious orders, which care for the sick in general, also care for the mentally ill. Muslim Arabs, who establish asylums as early as the 8th century, carry on the quasi-scientific approach of the Greeks.

Already towards the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the new period an interest developed in attempting to treat schizophrenics by some form of shock. In Switzerland, schizophrenics were put into nets and lowered into lakes until they were almost drowned and then pulled out again. Sometimes short-lasting

remissions were witnessed. In other countries patients were hit with chains and whips. Some of these patients died. But again there were some very impressive recoveries and remissions. This kind of primitive shock treatment was considered to be of a magic [sic] nature. It was believed that the devil had possession of the human body and mind, and the only logical consequence of such ideas seemed to be the attempt to make the devil’s stay in these strange places of residence as miserable as possible.


St. Mary of Bethlehem, or Bedlam, just outside London, first accepted psychiatric patients


Christine de Pizan writes in The Book of the City of Ladies about women's basic humanity and better education and treatment in marriage for women. She accuses men of cruelty and beating their wives. 


Asylum at Valencia founded by a monk named Joffre, out of pity for the lunatics whom he founded hooted by the crowds. The movement thus begun spread throughout Spain, and asylums were founded at Saragossa in 1425, at Seville in 1435, at Valladolid in 1436, and at Toledo before the end of the century. The first institution to open its doors in Europe is thought to be the Valencia mental hospital in Spain. Although not much is known about the treatment patients received at this particular site, asylums were notorious for the deplorable living conditions and cruel abuse endured by those admitted. For many years, asylums were not facilities aimed at helping the mentally ill achieve any sense of normalcy or otherwise overcome their illnesses. Instead, asylums were merely reformed penal institutions where the mentally ill were abandoned by relatives or sentenced by the law and faced a life of inhumane treatment, all for the sake of lifting the burden off of ashamed families and preventing any possible disturbance in the community.

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1409: Father Jofré

By Henk van Setten

A Street Incident

February 24, 1409 According to a traditional story, on this day an incident happened in the streets of the Spanish town of Valencia that would inspire the founding of an asylum for the insane. Some people claim that the Valencia asylum was the first one in Europe that functioned as a proper mental hospital rather than just a place to lock up the insane.

To follow the often-told story, on February 24, 1409 in a Valencia street a priest of the Order of Mercy (Father Joan-Gilabert Jofré, 1350-1417) ran into a group of youngsters who were harassing and assaulting a man who was mentally ill. They did so because they thought that the insane man was possessed by the devil.

Romantic 1887 depiction of Father Jofré’s intervention

Father Jofré intervened and took the wounded man to his convent to give him some protection and care. When the Father delivered a sermon in the Cathedral two days later, he used this opportunity to preach against “the irrational and cruel persecution” of mentally ill people who were “innocent, impotent and irresponsible.”

A Sermon

According to a romanticized version of this story (written down in 1848, four centuries later) the priest had said in his sermon:

“There are many important pious and charitable initiatives in this town, but a necessary one is lacking: a hospital or house where the innocent and frenzied would be brought together.

“Many poor, innocent and frenzied people wander through this city now, and they suffer great hardship, hunger and cold and harm, because due to their innocence and rage they do not know how to earn a living or to ask for the maintenance they need. Therefore, they sleep in the streets and die from hunger and cold.

“And many evil persons, who do not have God in their conscience, hurt them and point to where they are sleeping, and they also hurt and kill and abuse some innocent women.

“It also occurs that the frenzied poor themselves hurt other persons who are out wandering through the city. These things are known in the entire city of Valencia.

“Therefore it would be a holy enterprise for Valencia to build a hostel or hospital where such insane or innocent persons could be housed, so that they would not be wandering through the city and could not hurt nor be hurt.”

Among the people present in the church was a rich merchant, Lorenzo Salom. Touched by the sermon, he took the initiative to collect funds for establishing such a hospital and to get the initiative approved by the city council. They acquired a site to build an asylum just outside one of the city gates.

The Asylum

 Asylum gate

On June 1, 1410 the institution was opened. It was called the ‘Hospital of the Innocents, Insane and Lunatics, under the protection of Our Lady St. Mary of the Innocents.’

The “innocents” here referred to the babies who at the time of Jesus had been killed by King Herod. The intended implication was that just like all these small innocent children had been admitted to heaven, so would there be a place for the insane – on earth and, after their death, in heaven.

The asylum proved successful and grew rapidly. Within a few years, in 1414, a special fraternity was founded to run it and to collect funds for the institution. One of their dedicated tasks was to make sure that when insane people died, they got a decent Christian burial.

The original asylum remained a well-functioning institution, although in 1545 it burnt down and 30 patients died in the fire. It was rebuilt. In the meantime several Spanish towns had quickly followed the Valencia example and established similar asylums: Saragossa in 1425, Seville in 1435, Valladolid in 1436, Toledo in 1480.

 Father Jofré’s tomb

After his death in 1417, people began to venerate Father Jofré almost like a saint, although he never was officially canonized.

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Insane asylum built in Padua, Italy.


Bernard of Siena suggests that his male parishioners "exercise a little restraint and treat their wives with as much mercy as they would their hens and pigs."


Margery Kempe tells a priest of her story of madness.


Bedlam Hospital in London, England completes its conversion into a mental institution.


Malleus Maleficorum (The Witches’ Hammer) by two Dominican German monks, Johann Sprenger and Heinrich Kraemer backed by a Papal Bull became the witch-hunter’s bible.


Juan Luis Vives, born in Valencia in 1492, died in Bruges at the age of 48, respected by Erasmus, Henry VIII and St Thomas More. He put forward a concept of treatment for mental distress which we might do well to bear in mind today: “Since there is nothing in the world more excellent than man, nor in man than his mind, particular attention should be given to the welfare of the mind; and it should be considered a highest service if we either restore the minds of others to sanity or keep them sane and rational ... One ought to feel great compassion for so great a disaster to the health of the human mind, and it is of utmost importance that the treatment be such that insanity be not nourished and increased, as may result from  mocking, exciting or irritating madmen…”  Since he was also deeply committed to education for women, presumably he included everyone in this view.


The care of orphans was particularly commended to bishops and monasteries during the Middle Ages. Many orphanages practised some form of "binding-out" in which children, as soon as they were old enough, were given as apprentices to households to ensure their support and their learning an occupation. Common law maintaining the King's peace was administered by the Court of Common Pleas (England) dealing with civil cases between parties by ordering the fine of debts and seizure of the goods of outlaws. Following the Peasants' Revolt, British constables were authorised under a 1383 statute to collar vagabonds and force them to show their means of support; if they could not, the penalty was gaol. Under a 1494 statute, vagabonds could be sentenced to the stocks for three days and nights; in 1530, whipping was added. The assumption was that vagabonds were unlicenced beggars.


Virtually every form of care of the insane, as well as the monastic establishments in which they were received, disappear with the Reformation. Institutions for the insane start cropping up in Britain and across Europe:

In the 16th century, while demonology and witch-hunts continued, there were again those who put forward more enlightened beliefs.

Civil commitment was largely unknown as a governmental policy until the 16th century, and its use was not reserved exclusively to persons who were mentally ill, but rather began as isolation of many persons considered "undesirable" by society. Mental illness was not differentiated from other conditions such as idleness, drunkenness, homelessness, etc., which society condemned or sought to correct by the power of the state. Thus, the 16th century is sometimes called the era of "The Great Confinement."

Lord Hale, an English Jurist, sets the tradition of non-recognition of marital rape. He states that when women married, they "gave themselves to their husbands" in contract, and could not withdraw that consent until they divorced. "The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent a [sic] contract with wife hath given herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract." This is the basis of the "contractual consent" theory. Lord Hale burned women at the stake as witches and has been characterized as a misogynist.

Abbe de Brantome raises the question, "but however great the authority of the husband may be, what sense is there for him to be allowed to kill his wife?"  

Early settlers in America base their laws on old English common-law that explicitly permits wife-beating for correctional purposes. However, the trend in the young states is towards declaring wife-beating illegal. One step towards that end is to allow the husband to whip his wife only with a switch no bigger than his thumb. 

During the reign of Ivan the Terrible in Russia, the State Church sanctions the oppression of women by issuing a Household Ordinance that describes when and how a man might most effectively beat his wife. He is allowed to kill a wife or serf for disciplinary purposes. A half a century later, many Russian women fight back. When they kill their husbands for all the injustices they have been forced to endure, their punishment is to be buried alive with only their heads above the ground, and left to die. It is not against the law for a husband to kill his wife. 

In England, "the Golden Age of the Rod" is used against women and children who are taught that it is their sacred duty to obey the man of the house. Violence against wives is encouraged throughout this time. 


Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576) was the first physician to recognize the ability of the deaf to reason.


Gotz von Berlichingen, German mercenary knight, had a reputation as a Robin Hood, protecting the peasants from their oppressors. In 1508 he lost his right arm in the Battle of Landshut. Gotz had two prosthetic iron hands made for himself. These were mechanical masterpieces. Each joint could be moved independently by setting with the sound hand and relaxed by a release and springs. The hand could pronate and supinate and was suspended with leather straps.


Pope Innocent XIII, commissioned two priests to prepare a book concerning how to get rid of the devils and demons from the Christian World, by getting acquainted with them. These priests then prepared a book describing the devil, the ways to know it, and how to kill it, as well as the method of torturing the insane, with full details of various torturing methods and techniques. The insane were prosecuted before the religious courts (Inquisition) and burned alive to get rid of the devil located in their souls. Thus, more than hundred thousand mentally ill people were killed during the reign of Francois the First (1515-1547) in France. In the 16th. Century, in Geneva of Switzerland, more than five hundred insane people were burned in the squares of the city before the public, by fastening them to poles, within three months. Even in the 16th, century, Johann Wayer was thinking that seven million of devils were existed in the universe and advising to torture the insane who carried the devils in their body.


Paracelsus, a contemporary of Vives, totally rejected demonology in dealing with mental distress. He saw it as a natural disease, writing, “We must not forget to explain the origin of the diseases which deprive man of his reason, as we know from experience that they develop out of man's disposition. The present-day clergy of Europe attribute such diseases to ghostly beings and threefold spirits: we are not inclined to believe them.”

Paracelsus (1493-1541) and another contemporary, Agrippa (1486-1535), disliked dangerous dispensing methods and complained of physicians recommended for their esoteric religions, splendid clothes and amulets. 'Simple and native medicines are quite neglected. Costly foreign remedies are preferred which latter are mixed in such enormous numbers that the action of one is counteracted by that of another'. But such ideas were treated with great suspicion by the religious community. Paracelsus claimed he learned all he knew from wise women – women skilled in the use of herbal remedies who acted as community midwives and laid out the dead.

Agrippa's pupil Johann Weyer (b.1515) managed to bring a profound influence on the treatment of mental distress. Weyer emphasized that illnesses attributed to witches came from natural causes, and made the revolutionary demand that witches should themselves be sent to physicians for treatment. Weyer also considered the effects of drug-induced hallucinations, and provided clinical descriptions of auditory hallucinations and persecution mania. However his book, De Praestigiis Daemonum was proscribed by the Catholic church, and he himself was accused of being a sorcerer.

Susannah Hornebolt (later, Whorstly) was the first known female artist in England.


English Parliament registered the poor so that they could beg. The first poor law enacted a weekly collection of taxes to be distributed by the parishes in England.


In 1532, the Parliament of Paris decided to arrest beggars and force them to work in the sewers of the city while chained in pairs. Such forced labor was also imposed upon poor scholars, indigents, peasants driven from their farms, disbanded soldiers or deserters, unemployed workers, impoverished students and even the sick.


The Act for the Punishment of Sturdy Vagabonds and Beggars, enacted in England, increases penalties for begging and makes the parish the local government unit for poor relief, requiring local officials to provide resources by making voluntary contributions in churches.


Wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, beheaded for 'adultery'.


Wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, beheaded for 'improper conduct'.


Poet Anne Askew (1521-1546) tortured in the Tower of London and burnt at the stake as a heretic.


Insane asylum refounded as St. Mary of Bethlehem in London, England. Became known as Bedlam. Devoted entirely to psychiatric patients. The most infamous asylum was located in London, England—Saint Mary of Bethlehem. This monastery-turned-asylum began admitting the mentally ill in 1547 after Henry VIII announced its transformation. The institution soon earned the nickname “Bedlam” as its horrific conditions and practices were revealed. Violent patients were put on display like sideshow freaks for the public to peek at for the price of one penny; gentler patients were put out on the streets to beg for charity




John Knox published The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women.


William Bullein stated that rejection in love, coveting and greed are causes of madness, and he clearly rejects madness as having a physical cause. We all understand that "love sick" or "spring fever" are not bodily diseases, but a spiritual choices of emotions we feel. Bullein says that "talking" is the only hope a cure for insanity, not drugs: "The syckenes of the body must have medicine, the passions of the mind, must have good counsel. What pleasure hath a condemned man in music, or a dead man in phisicke? Nothing at all God knoweth. 'how many men have been caste away by thought, and most for loss of estimation, and some of other affections of the mind, as inordinate love, or coveting things that they can not gain, or obtaining those things that they can not keep, or ire of men's prosperity or good happy." (William Bullein, A new book entitled the government of health, 1558 AD)




The national Church of Scotland set out a programme for spiritual reform, setting the principle of a school teacher for every parish church and free education. This was provided for by an Act of the Parliament of Scotland, passed in 1633, which introduced a tax to pay for this programme.




San Hipolito was built in Mexico 1566 and claims the title of the first asylum in the Americas.


Mother Waterhouse became the first Englishwoman hanged for the 'crime' of witchcraft.




Felix Platter, Switzerland, among the first to distinguish between various types of mental disorders.




In England, Elizabethan Poor laws started a tax to provide care for the poor which would put migrants to work as relief workers for the other poor




In England, by an act of Parliament of 1575, the government punished vagrants and confined the poor to institutes known as "houses of correction."


Lasso, a Spanish lawyer, concluded that those who learn to speak are no longer dumb and should have rights to progeniture.




The British gave the poor materials to use to work from their homes and paid them by piece for what they got finished.


Bessie Dunlop of Lyne, Ayrshire, became the first Scottish woman to be burned as a witch.


Publication of The Praise and Dispraise of Women (Anon, or poss C. Pyrrye.).


St Osyth witch trials. Ursula Kempe and Elizabeth Bennet put to death.


Thomas Cogan viewed man as having both a body and a soul. He stated that the mind was not connected with the body, but the soul. However, he took the view that the mind can cause the body to get sick if a student studies endlessly in the night. This is exactly what the Bible says: "But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body." Ecclesiastes 12:12. He outlines that physical exercise is for the body and study is exercise of the mind. He warns that that the mind will be harmed by laziness and lack of use. "As man doeth consist of two partes, that is of bodie, and soule, so exercise is of two sortes, that is to say of the bodie and of the minde. Hitherto I have spoken of exercise of the bodie, nowe I will entreat of exercise of the minde, which is Study. ... The activity of the mind is never still. Idlenesse therefore is not onely against nature, but also dulleth the minde, as Ovid woorthily writeth: In addition the mind grows dull when harmed by long inactivity, and its ability is much less than it was before." So Cogan clearly believes that over use or under use of the mind can lead to physical illness. While this is not true, the fact remains that Thomas rejected the idea that insanity was something the body does to the mind. (The haven of health, Thomas Cogan, 1584 AD, p 12)


Timothy Bright, doctor and priest, viewed that the spirit could make the body sick and the body could make the mind delusional. He focuses on how the mind causes the body to become melancholy and forbids the taking medicines as a cure. Instead Bright recommends only counsel to be the cure. "The dayly experience of phrensies, madnesse, lunasies, and melancholy cured by .. . art in that kinde, hath caused some to judge more basely of the soule... I have layd open howe the bodie, and corporall things affect the soule, & how the body is affected of it againe : what the difference is betwixt natural melancholie, and that heavy hande of God upon the afflicted conscience, tormented with remorse of sinne, & feare of his judgement. ... The mad man, of what kinde soever he be of, as truly concludeth of that which fantasie ministreth of conceit, as the wisest : onely therein lieth the abuse and defect, that the organicall parts which are ordained embassadours, & notaries unto the mind in these cases, falsisie the report, and deliver corrupt recordes. This is to be helped, as it shall be declared more at large hereafter, by counsell only sincerely ministred, which is free from the corruptions of those officers, and delivereth truth unto the mind, wherby it putteth in practise contrary to these importunate and furious sollicitors. ... Here it first proceedeth from the mindes apprehension: there from the humour, which deluding the organicall actions, abuseth the minde, and draweth it into erronious judgement, through false testimony of the outward reporte. Here no medicine, no purgation, no cordiall, no tryacle or balme are able to assure the afflicted soule and trembling heart, now panting under the terrors of God : there in melancholy the vain opened, neesing powder or bearefoote ministred, cordialls of pearle, Saphires, and rubies, with such like, recomforte the heart throwne downe, & appaled with fantasticall feare. In this affliction, the perill is not of body, and corporall actions, or decay of servile, and temporall uses, but of the whole nature soule and body cut of from the life of God, and from the sweet influence of his favour, the fountaine of all happines and eternall felicity." (A treatise of melancholie, Timothy Bright, 1586 AD)


Jane Anger published Jane Anger: Her Protection for Women.


The Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1597 was a piece of poor law legislation in England and Wales. It provided the first complete code of poor relief and was later amended by the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, which formed the basis of poor relief for the next two centuries. The Act established Overseers of the Poor. Poor Relief refers to any actions taken by either governmental or ecclesiastical bodies to relieve poverty experienced by a population. More specifically, the term poor relief is often used to discuss how European countries dealt with poverty from the time just around the end of the medieval era to modernity when systems changed from barter style economy to the early days of capitalism. Throughout this time frame, authorities have been confronted with such questions as, "Who exactly should benefit from legislation that is passed?" and "Who is ultimately responsible for the care of these individuals?". As a result of trying to answer these difficult questions, in addition to ever changing attitudes towards poverty, many methods have been instituted to remedy this social crisis. From the early part of the 16th century to the modern day, poverty legislation passed by the English Parliament has transformed from a systematic means of punishment to a system of governmental support and protection as a result of the creation of the Welfare State. The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief which existed in England and Wales that developed out of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws being codified in 1587–98. The Poor Law system was in existence until the emergence of the modern welfare state after the Second World War. English Poor Law legislation can be traced back as far as 1536, when legislation was passed to deal with the impotent poor, although there is much earlier Tudor legislation dealing with the problems caused by vagrants and beggars. The history of the Poor Law in England and Wales is usually divided between two statutes, the Old Poor Law passed during the reign of Elizabeth I and the New Poor Law, passed in 1834, which significantly modified the existing system of poor relief. The later statute altered the Poor Law system from one which was administered haphazardly at a local parish level to a highly centralised system which encouraged the large-scale development of workhouses by Poor Law Unions. The Poor Law system fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century owing to factors such as the introduction of the Liberal welfare reforms and the availability of other sources of assistance from friendly societies and trade unions, as well as piecemeal reforms which bypassed the Poor Law system. The Poor Law system was not formally abolished until the National Assistance Act 1948, with parts of the law remaining on the books until 1967.


In the 17th century there was a widespread belief that if mad people behaved like animals, they should be treated like animals.  People with mental health problems were often cared for privately.

Where an unmarried mother concealed the death of her baby, she was presumed guilty of infanticide unless she could prove that the baby was born dead (this requirement that the defendant prove her innocence was a reversal of the normal practice of requiring the prosecution to prove the defendant's guilt). Women were acquitted of this charge if they could demonstrate that they had prepared for the birth of the baby, for example by acquiring some kind of bedding. In 1678 children aged 10 were deemed able to engage in consensual sex.

Native American shamans, or medicine men, summoned supernatural powers to treat the mentally ill, incorporating rituals of atonement and purification.


The Elizabethan Poor Law is enacted by the English Parliament, establishing three categories of people eligible for relief: (1) able-bodied poor people; (2) "impotent poor" people (that is, "unemployables"-aged, blind, and disabled people); and (3) dependent children. This law, on which colonial poor laws were based, became a fundamental concept in U.S. public welfare. The Poor Law Act was made to counter the first poor laws, parish workers start to whither away. The Poor Law was the social security system operating in England and Wales from the 16th century until the establishment of the Welfare State in the 20th century. The Impotent poor was a classification of poverty used to refer to those poor considered deserving of poor relief; a vagrant was a person who could work, but preferred not to. The law did not distinguish between the impotent poor and the criminal, so both received the same punishments. The law provided for "the putting out of children to be apprentices". Main points of the 1601 Act: The impotent poor (people who can't work) were to be cared for in almshouse or a poorhouse. The law offered relief to people who were unable to work: mainly those who were "lame, impotent, old, blind". The able-bodied poor were to be set to work in a House of Industry. Materials were to be provided for the poor to be set to work. The idle poor and vagrants were to be sent to a House of Correction or even prison. Pauper children would become apprentices.


In 1603, William Shakespeare wrote a series of plays that depicted insanity. In many of Shakespeare's plays, insanity plays a central role. Shakespeare always provides a clear reason for the insanity in each play: Lady Macbeth from guilt of murder. King Lear goes mad because he is betrayed by his two daughters: "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks; rage, blow. You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks.". Hamlet goes insane after learning that his mother murdered his father. It is never given a biologic cause and the insane are not dragged off against their will to a mad house, because that was not the practice of the day, and insanity was not viewed as something medical doctors could treat. Shakespeare therefore, gives us a perfect window into history in 1600 AD and understands that the only hope of cure for the insane rests solely within themselves. Guilt from murder causes Lady Macbeth to go insane, hallucinate blood on her hands that she cannot clean and suffer insomnia: MACBETH: "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine [flesh-colored], making the green one red." (Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 2, 1603 AD) Later Macbeth calls for a doctor to cure his wife of her insanity: MACBETH: "How does your patient, doctor?" Doctor: "Not so sick, my lord, As she is troubled with thick coming fancies, That keep her from her rest." MACBETH: "Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Raze out the written troubles of the brain And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart?" Doctor: "Therein the patient must minister to himself." MACBETH: "Throw physic [medical treatments] to the dogs; I'll none of it." (Macbeth: Act 5, Scene 3, 1603 AD) Notice that the doctor understood insanity was not a bodily illness, refused to treat her, stated only she can cure herself, and left her to live her life freely, though insane. This is exactly opposite to what would happen today when the psychiatrist would claim only he can treat her, lock her up in a mental hospital and treat her even it if was against her will. Notice MacBeth demanded some "potion", but the doctor knew non existed... exactly the same it true today.


Francis Bacon believed that medical science was not helpful in understanding insanity. However Bacon did believe that the body could affect thinking and that the mind could affect the body: "Medicine is a Science, which hath been (as we have said) more professed, than labored, & yet more labored, than advanced; the labor having been, in my judgement, rather in circle, than in progression." He believed that insanity was something that occurred in the mind "affection" alone: "So in medicining of the Mind, after knowledge of the divers Characters of mens natures, it followeth in order to know the diseases and infirmities of the mind, which are no other then the perturbations & distempers of the affections ... Now Come we to those points which are within our own command and have force and operation upon the mind to affect the will & Appetite & to alter Manners: wherein they ought to have handled Custom, Exercise, Habit, Education, example, Imitation, Emulation, Company, Friends, praise, Reproof, exhortation, fame, laws, Books, studies : these as they have determinate use, in moralities, from these the mind suffereth, and of these are such receipts & Regiments compounded & described, as may seem to recover or preserve the health and Good estate of the mind, as far as pertaineth to humane Medycine." ... "So this league of mind and body, hath these two parts, How the one discloseth the other, and how the one worketh upon the other". (Advancement of Learning, Francis Bacon, 1605 AD)


The British started migrating to North America some started calling the states home, but Britain was still their country. No matter what at this point most of the new American's whether wealthy or poor had to work to survive, they all had to pitch in and do the growing of food and building of homes and the education of their children.

In Ireland, from 1367 to 1607, suppression of the Brehon Laws which enumerated the rights and responsibilities of fostered children, their birth-parents and foster-parents. The Brehon Law concept of family was eroded and the Gaelic tradition of fosterage lost. It was ultimately replaced by the State controlled Poor Law system.


In 1606, by decree of the French Parliament, it was ordered that the beggars could be whipped in the public squares, branded on the shoulders, shorn and then driven from the city. Archers were posted at the city gates to prevent re-entry.

Elizabeth Grymeston published Miscellanea.


William Perkins believed that the Devil caused madness in people who were in a physically weakened melancholy state. The resulting actions that manifested madness were delusion, self deception, "conceits, and imaginary fancies". Insanity was caused partly from the devil's temptations and partly from the choices of the persons themselves. This was not demon possession, but demonic temptation that weak people yielded to. He stressed that madness was not caused by physical diseases, but spiritual choices. "This man hath a crazie braine, and is troubled with melancholy ... Witches of our times (say they) are aged persons, of weake braines, and troubled with abundance of melancholie, and the devill taketh advauntage of the humor, and so deludes them, perswading that they have made a league with him, when they have not, and consequently mooving them to imagine, that they doe, and may doe strange things, which indeed are done by himselfe, and not by them." (A discourse of the damned art of witchcraft, William Perkins, 1608 AD)


John Downame describes how anger, being a "disease of the mind", has both a physiological effect on the body (red face, high blood pressure, hair standing on end) but a spiritual effect on the mind (loss of reason, wits). There are many case stories of people driven to raving madness because of unchecked anger. Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be angry, but to not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." He states that the behaviour and effects of shorts bursts of anger are identical to madness, except for the length of time. His solution to anger to be silent or speak softly, is taken straight from the Bible: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 "Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife." Proverbs 26:21. The final solution is to gently warn and rebuke the person about the dangers anger will bring on his soul. Downame clearly understood that anger had its origin in the mind, but that it affected both mind and body. This was true. The Bible says that sin will make you sick. (A treatise of Anger, John Downame, 1609 AD)


Emilia Lanyer published Salve Deus Rex Iudaeorum.


Lady Elizabeth Carew's play The Tragedie of Marian the faire Queen of Jewry was the first play by a woman to be published.


G. Bonifacio published a treatise discussing sign language, "Of The Art of Signs."

Rachel Speght published her defence of women, as A Mouzell (i.e. muzzle) for Melastomus, The Cynicall Bayter of, and foule mouthed Barker against Evahs Sex. Or an Apologetical Answere to the Irreligious and Illiterate Pamphlet made by Joseph Swetnam.


Ester Sowernam (pseud) published her defence of women, as Ester hath hang'd Haman, or An Answere to a lewd Pamphlet, entituled, The Arraignment of Women


Constantia Munda (pseud) published her defence of women, as The Worming of a mad Dogge.


On 9-14 August, 20 African blacks were brought to Jamestown on a Dutch ship and bought as indentured servants – which will lead to the introduction of black slavery in North America. (The Spanish had already brought African slaves with them to Central and South America.) Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 24, 1607 and considered permanent after brief abandonment in 1610, it followed several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699. Within a year of Jamestown's founding, the Virginia Company brought Polish and Dutch colonists to help improve the settlement. In 1619, the first documented Africans were brought to Jamestown, though the modern conception of slavery in the future United States did not begin in Virginia until 1660.


Patients of the notoriously harsh Bethlem Hospital banded together and sent a “Petition of the Poor Distracted People in the House of Bedlam (concerned with conditions for inmates)” to the House of Lords.


Robert Burton, Britain, published Anatomy of Melancholia, a description of depression. Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) written from his own experience, noted the aggression that lies behind depression, and proposed a therapeutic program of exercise, music, drugs and diet, with a stress on the importance of discussing problems with a close friend, or, if one is not available, with a doctor.


The Privy Council set up a commission to administer the poor laws, to see that they were fairly enacted and people were supposedly being treated fairly.


Virginia Colony passes the first legislation recognizing services and needs of disabled sol-diers and sailors based on "special work" contributions to society.


In 1630, the King of England established a commission to assure vigorous enforcement of the "poor laws," which of course included persons with mental illness, but did not differentiate them from this population of persons in need of correction. Specifically, these laws applied to: all those who live in idleness and will not work for reasonable wages and who spend what they have in taverns.... For those with wives and children inquiry must be made whether they were married and the children baptized.


Richard Brathwaite published English Gentlewoman, which emphasised widows' chastity.


Publication of The Lawes Resolutions of Women's Rights, or the Lawes Provision for Woemen, A Methodicall Collection of such Statutes and Customes, with the Cases, Opinions, Arguments and Points of Learning in the Law as doe properly concern Women (by an anonymous man).

It was recorded that Bethlem Royal Hospital, London had "below stairs a parlor, a kitchen, two larders, a long entry throughout the house, and 21 rooms wherein the poor distracted people lie, and above the stairs eight rooms more for servants and the poor to lie in." Inmates who were deemed dangerous or disturbing were chained, but Bethlem was an otherwise open building for its inhabitants to roam around its confines and possibly throughout the general neighborhood in which the hospital was situated. In 1676, Bethlem expanded into newly built premises at Moorfields with a capacity for 100 inmates.


Dorothy Leigh published The Mothers Blessing.


Anne Hutchinson (Women’s and religious rights) is convicted of sedition and expelled from the Massachusetts colony for her religious ideas.

First patent granted to a woman: Amye Everard, for her method of making tinctures from flowers

William Austin published Haec Homo Wherein the Excellency of the Creation of Woman is described by way of an Essaie.


Mary Tattle-well and Ioane Hit-him-home (pseuds) published The Women's Sharpe Revenge.


La Maison de Chareton was the first mental facility in France, founded in 1641 in a suburb of Paris.

Publication of A True Copie of the Petition of the Gentlewoman and Tradesmen's Wives in and about the City of London. Delivered to the Honorable the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the House of Commons in Parliment the 4th of February 1641.

Thomas Heywood published Gynaikeion: or, Nine bookes of various history. Concerning women.



Plymouth Colony enacts a poor law that directs that relief cases be discussed at town meetings.


The first colonial Poor Law enacted by Rhode Island emphasizes public responsibility for relief of the poor, to maintain the impotent, and to employ the able, and shall appoint an overseer for the same purpose. Sec. 43 Eliz. 2.

The maids petition. To the Honourable members of both Houses. Or the humble petition of the well-affected, within and without the lines of communication, virgins, maids, and other young women not married.


Leveller women demonstrated in London, calling for equal rights for women and presenting a petition.


Ten thousand Leveller women signed the second women's petition to parliament. To the supream authority of England the Commons assembled in Parliament. The humble petition of diverse wel-affected weomen.


Mary Stiff published The good womens cryes against the excise of all their commodities.


The Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers, is founded in England. Quakers will make vital contributions to the abolitionist and suffrage movements in the United States. One Quaker woman, Mary Dyer, will be hanged in 1660 for preaching in Boston.

Pierre Le Moyne published The gallery of heroick women.


King Louis XIV of France founded Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris for prostitutes and the mentally defective. In relative terms, a major improvement and dramatic change of social attitude came with the decree in 1656 of King Louis XIII establishing the Hôspital Général in Paris to help the poor, military invalids, and the sick. For the first time, this decree required the publicly chartered hospital to accept, lodge, and feed those who presented themselves. The director of the hospital had a lifetime appointment and city-wide jurisdiction, which was immune from review by courts or any other government body. The decree provided: “They have all power of authority, of direction, of administration, of commerce, of police, of jurisdiction, of correction and punishment over all the poor of Paris, both within and without the Hôspital Général....” The directors having for these purposes stakes, irons, prisons, and dungeons in said Hôspital Général and the places hereto appertaining so much as they deem necessary. No appeal would be accepted from the regulations they establish within the said Hôspital; and as for such regulations as intervene without, they would be executed according to their form and tenor, not withstanding opposition or whatsoever appeal made or to be made and without prejudice to these, and for which, notwithstanding all defense or suits for justice no distinction would be made. The purpose of the Hôspital Général Act of Paris was to prevent "mendicancy [begging] and idleness as source of all disorders." When England's King Henry IV began the siege of Paris it had one hundred thousand inhabitants, 30,000 beggars with 6,000 residents in the Hôspital Général. Despite the draconian nature of the Hôspital Général of Paris, it was nevertheless an improvement over banishment and posting archers at the city gates or, in the words of Anatole Francois Thibauet: "The Law in its majestic equality, forbids all men to sleep under bridges, to beg in the street, and to steal bread - the rich as well as the poor." For the first time, there was a governmental obligation to take care of all the needy who "presented" themselves, the unemployed, the sick, etc., at the expense of the nation, albeit there was also an obligation upon the recipients of such care to work for their keep.

George Horton published Now or never: or, a new Parliament of women assembled and met together neer the Popes-Head in Moor-Fields, on the Back-side of Allsuch; adjoyning upon Shoreditch.

George Fox published The woman learning in silence: or, The mysterie of the womans subiection to her husband.


Scots' Charitable Society, the first American "friendly society," founded in Boston, represents the starts of voluntary societies to meet special welfare needs.


The first almshouse is established in Rensselaerswyck, New York, followed by one in Plymouth in 1658 and another in Boston in 1660.

T. Heywood published The Generall History of Women, containing lives of the most Holy and Profane, the most Famous and Infamous of all ages.


Anna Maria von Schurman (a German) published in London The Learned Maid; or, Whether a Maid May Be a Scholar? A logick exercise written in latine by that incomparable virgin Anna Maria a Schurman of Vtrecht.


Rev. John Ashbourne was stabbed by a patient who had been cared for in his house. Ashbourne was renowned in Suffolk as a 'clerical mad-doctor', and after his death Ashbourne's wife and son, who unlike Ashbourne had received the Cambridge license to practice medicine from Trinity College, continued to run the 'mad-business' until at least 1686. This system of private treatment began with Helkiah Crooke, physician to James I and Bethlem Hospital who took patients into his own home for treatment. From boarding a single lunatic it was a short step to providing accommodation for numbers of patients, and thus setting up a private madhouse.


The Settlement Act (Law of Settlement and Removal) is passed by the English Parliament to prevent movement of indigent groups from parish to parish in search of relief. The law makes residence a requirement for assistance, thus influencing American colonies.


Maria Askew published Women's Speaking.


Pieter Andriannszoon Verduyn (verduuin), a Dutch Surgeon, introduces the first non-locking, below knee prosthesis. It bears a striking similarity to today's joint and corset prosthesis.


Two doctors set up madhouses in London in the 1670s. John Archer, one of Charles II's 'Physicians in Ordinary', and Thomas Allen, a physician at Bethlem Hospital who also ran a private asylum. Allen seems to have been a humanitarian scientist who prevented his colleagues from transfusing sheep's blood into a man, and also ordered the first postmortem recorded at the Bethlem Hospital. One of his patients was James Carkesse, a clerk in Samuel Pepys's office at the Admiralty. Treatment varied according to ability to pay. Elsewhere in the country a Mistress Miller  'mad for two years' was treated by diet, glysters (large syringes used for purging), leeches, fresh cyder drinks, warm herb baths, and applying animal organs such as 'warm lungs of lambs' to her shaven head.

The first play written by a woman was performed on the stage. Aphra Behn's The Forc'd marriage ran for six days at the Duke's Theatre, Lincoln's Inn.


Thomas Willis, a neuroanatomist and doctor and a founder of the Royal Society, speaking of treatment of the mentally ill said, “The primary object is naturally curative discipline, threats, fetters and blows are needed as much as medical treatment...Truly nothing is more necessary and more effective for the recovery of these people than forcing them to respect and fear intimidation. By this method, the mind, held back by restraint, is induced to give up its arrogance and wild ideas and it soon becomes meek and orderly. This is why maniacs often recover much sooner if they are treated with torture and torments in a hovel instead of with medicaments.” In 1672 he published the earliest English work on medical psychology, 'Two Discourses concerning The Soul of Brutes, Which is that of the Vital and Sensitive of Man'. His anatomical treatise De Anima Brutorum, described psychology in terms of brain function. Willis could be seen as an early pioneer of the mind-brain supervenience claim prominent in present day neuropsychiatry and philosophy of mind. Unfortunately, his enlightenment did not affect his treatment of patients, advocating in some cases to hit the patient over the head with sticks.


Mrs. Bathsua Makin published An Essay to Revive the Ancient Education of Gentlewomen in Religion, Manners, Arts and Tongues.


T. Golborne published A Friendly Apology on behalf of Women's Excellency, with Examples of more Women Worthies.


George Fox published This is an encuragement to all the womens-meetings in the world.

The old “Bedlam” hospital is replaced by the larger Moorfields Bedlam. The new Bethlem was for show, and it was showy. It had public gardens and was modeled on a French palace. Lunatics were on display for a fee, with locals and foreigners coming to look, perhaps after a visit to the zoo animals at the Tower of London. In 1695, Thomas Tryon, an early anti-slavery abolitionist and pacifist, complained about allowing such visits on holy days: “It is a very undecent, inhuman thing to make... a show... by exposing them, and naked too perhaps of either sexes, to the idle curiosity of every vain boy, petulant wench, or drunken companion, going along from one apartment to the other, and crying out; this woman is in for love, that man for jealousy. He has over-studied himself, and the like.” It took several hundred years for English law to become concerned with the conditions in institutions and the procedure for confining people in them. In 1744, Parliament enacted An Act for Regulating Madhouses, which for the first time gave physicians the power to commit.


Francois Poulain de La Barre published The woman as good as the man, or, The equallity of both sexes.


In England, children aged 10 were deemed able to engage in consensual sex.


Publication of Haec Et Hic, or the Feminine Gender more Worthy than the Masculine (Anon), with a Dedication in MS to Mrs Eldridge.


"Discipline, threats, fetters, and blows are needed as much as medical treatment.... Truly nothing is more necessary and more effective for the recovery of these people than forcing them to respect and fear intimidation. By this method, the mind, held back by restraint, is induced to give up its arrogance and wild ideas and it soon becomes meek & orderly. This is why maniacs often recover much sooner if they are treated with tortures & torments in a hovel instead of with medicaments." -Thomas Willis

Alice Molland of Exeter became the last Englishwoman to be hanged as a witch.


Isaac Newton‚s "Principia Mathematica" set the stage for hundreds of years of scientific and technological discoveries. This was the beginning of new forms of transportation and electrical advances


Witchcraft and demonic possession were common explanations for mental illness. The Salem witchcraft trials sentenced nineteen people to hanging. The Salem Witch Trials set a tone for future harsh treatment of marginalized citizens.

The Province of Massachusetts Bay Acts establish indenture contracting or "binding out" for poor children so they will live "under some orderly family government."


First ever women's magazine. The Ladies' Mercury was a single sheet, published by John Dunton, and consisting of a problem page.


Mary Astell published A Serious Proposal to the Ladies for the Advancement of Their True and Greatest Interest, by a Lover of Her Sex. Dedicated to Princess Ann of Denmark. (Anon)

Publication of The Ladies' Dictionary. (Written by men, mainly about property law.)


The Workhouse Test Act is passed by the English Parliament as a means of forcing unemployed people to work for relief; the act is copied by the colonies.

The poor had to wear certain colored badges to identify themselves. In England, a decree of 1697 created an appointed office of justice of the peace to establish houses of correction in various provinces and to collect taxes for their support. By the end of the 18th century in England there were 126 such facilities. Through the 17th century, persons with mental illness were not segregated in any way from persons who were poor, unemployment, physically ill or debilitated, merely idle or social deviant. The horrors of these hospitals were numerous and punitively based upon theories of illness and idleness. In this age, the view of mental illness was largely that of the "animalistic theory," i.e., those who were mentally ill were very similar to animals who did not feel pain, nor cold, nor severe punishment but rather thrived under such conditions. Indeed, many of the cells in which such persons were confined were built to resemble animal cages and the resident inmates, including women, were often crowded naked in these very tiny rooms.

Mary Astell published An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex, in a Letter to a Lady, by a Lady (Anon).


The 18th century saw the development of new asylums built to house people with mental health problems separately from houses of correction and poor houses. One of these was the New Bethlem, seen to be so magnificent it was thought  'everyone might become half mad in order to lodge there'. (Palatial as it looked, it was built on a land-fill site and deteriorated rapidly.)  Whilst mental hospitals that followed New Bethlem were reasonably managed in London, the provincial institutions were often very poor. At Newcastle there were 'chains, iron bars, dungeon-like cells, many close, cold, dark holes, less comfortable than cow houses. There was no separation of the sexes, no classification, and for medical treatment the old exploded system of restraint and coercion.'

Private mad houses proliferated in Britain, becoming prosperous and competitive. Due, perhaps, to the absence of a centralised state response to the social problem of madness until the nineteenth-century, private madhouses proliferated in eighteenth-century England on a scale unseen elsewhere. References to such institutions are limited for the seventeenth-century but it is evident that by the start of the eighteenth-century the so-called 'trade in lunacy' was well established. In a curious precursor to group homes and outpatient commitment, the 1700s and 1800s saw in England not only the creation of small private madhouses but one or two person commitments/confinements for the rich, with the referring physicians often having a financial stake in the facility. Daniel Defoe, an ardent critic of private madhouses, estimated in 1724 that there were fifteen then operating in the London area. Defoe may have exaggerated but exact figures for private metropolitan madhouses are only available from 1774 when licensing legislation was introduced and sixteen institutions were recorded. At least two of these, Hoxton House and Wood's Close, Clerkenwell, had been in operation since the seventeenth-century. By 1807, the number had only increased to seventeen. It is conjectured that this limited growth in the number of London madhouses is likely to reflect the fact that vested interests, especially the College of Physicians, exercised considerable control in preventing new entrants to the market. Thus, rather than a proliferation of private madhouses in London, existing institutions tended to expand considerably in size. The establishments which increased most during the eighteenth-century, such as Hoxton House, did so by accepting pauper patients rather than private, middle-class, fee-paying patients. Significantly, pauper patients, unlike their private counterparts, were not subject to inspection under the 1774 legislation.
Madhouses for the Rich: When the very rich were lunatic or idiot, their relatives could afford to confine them as single lunatics - as the British Royal Family did in 1788, 1801, 1811 and 1916. One motive for this was secrecy. Madhouses for two or more inmates were more vulnerable to the risk of exposure, because more people were involved, and because the registration of inmates was required from 1774, but they might provide more humane custody at a lower price. Physicians and others who arranged single confinement, would also refer people to private madhouses, in which they would have some financial stake. Some of these catered especially for the rich. Whitmore became a madhouse in 1757. Thomas Warburton's association with Willis, building up its aristocratic clientele, probably dates from the 1790s, before the second episode of the King's madness. Rev Willis became Dr Willis in 1759 - which gives some indication of the start of his business. John Monro opened Brooke House in 1759. Ticehurst may have opened in 1763, Cleve Hill (later Brislington) in 1794. Sidney House (later Manor House) admitted its first patient on 1.8.1829. An article by Harriet Martineau in 1834 argued that rich lunatics would be better cared for in asylums than singly. The case for the "domestic" (single) treatment of some patients was argued by Dr Edward James Seymour (1831/1832). Those who managed asylums for the rich usually also provided single houses as an option.


Philgynes published The freedom of the fair sex asserted: or, Woman the crown of the creation.

Mary Astell published Some Reflections Upon Marriage Occasioned by the Duke and Duchess of Mazarine's Case.

Publication of Baron and Feme: a Treatise of the Common Law Concerning Husbands and Wives.


Lady Mary Lee Chudleigh published The Ladies Defence.


John Broughton first used the word "psychology" in his book Psychologia: ...the nature of the rational soul.

The New Plymouth Colony Acts establish systems of indenture and apprenticeships for children.


First women's magazine edited by a woman - The Female Tatler - was published by Mary de la Riviere Manley.


Jane Wenham, the wise woman of Walkerene, became the last woman to be tried for 'witchcraft'.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu published Answer to a Love Letter.


A German trial transcript documents lesbian violence. The women are on trial for lesbianism when domestic violence is revealed. The defendent, Catharina Linck, is sentenced to death. The codefendent, Catharina Muhlhahn, receives 3 years in jail and is then banished - not because she was the victim, but because she was "simple-minded.


The Poor Act established work houses.


After being plagued with guilt over the Salem Witch Trials, influential New England Puritan minister Cotton Mather (1663-1728), broke with superstition by advancing physical explanations for mental illnesses over demonic explanations


Janet Horne or Dornoch became the last woman in Scotland to be burned as a witch.


The Ursuline Sisters of New Orleans establish a private home to care for mothers and children who are survivors of Indian massacres and a smallpox epidemic.


In England, a woman pregnant with a "bastard" was required to declare the fact and to name the father. In 1733, the putative father became responsible for maintaining his illegitimate child; failing to do so could result in gaol. The parish would then support the mother and child, until the father agreed to do so, whereupon he would reimburse the parish — although this rarely happened. In 1744, a bastard took the 'settlement' of its mother (under the Poor Law, a person's place of origin or later established residence, being the Parish responsible for the person if destitute) regardless of where the child was actually born. Previously, a bastard took settlement from its place of birth. The mother was to be publicly whipped.

Publication of A Treatise of Feme Couverts: Or, the Lady's Law, Containing all the Laws and Statutes Relating to Women.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu published (as 'Sophia') Woman not Inferior to Man.


Publication of An Essay in Praise of Women, or a Looking Glass for Ladies (Anon).

Publication of The Hardships of the English Laws, In relation to Wives. With an Explanation of the Original Curse of Subjection Passed Upon the Woman. In an Humble Address to the Legislature. (by an anonymous woman).


Sir Matthew Hale's Pleas of the Crown decreed that no husband can be guilty of rape for on marriage every woman gives up her right ever to refuse sex.

English Statues against witchcraft repealed.


The London-Citizen Exceedingly Injured; or, a British Inquisition Display’d, in an Account of the Unparallel’d Case of a Citizen of London, Bookseller to the Late Queen, Who Was in a Most Unjust and Arbitrary Manner Sent on the 23rd of March Last, 1738, by One Robert Wightman, a Mere Stranger, to a Private Madhouse. London: T. Cooper by Cruden, Alexander. 

The Foundling Hospital was established in London by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram as a home for the "education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children." Children were seldom taken after they were twelve months old. On reception they were sent to wet nurses in the countryside, where they stayed until they were about four or five years old. At sixteen girls were generally apprenticed as servants for four years; at fourteen, boys became apprentices in varying occupations for seven years.

Mary Collier published The Woman's Labour.


Mr. Cruden Greatly Injured: An Account of a Trial between Mr. Alexander Cruden, Bookseller to the Late Queen, Plaintif, and Dr. Monro, Matthew Wright, John Oswald, and John Davis, Defendants; in the Court of the Common-Pleas in Westminster Hall July 17, 1739, on an Action of Trespass, Assault and Imprisonment:  the Said Mr. Cruden, Tho’ in His Right Senses, Having Been Unjustly Confined and Barbarously Used in the Said Matthew Wright’s Private Madhouse at Bethnal-Green for Nine Weeks and Six Days, till He Made His Wonderful Escape May 31, 1738.  To Which is Added a Surprising Account of Several Other Persons, Who Have Been Mostly Unjustly Confined in Private Madhouses. London: A. Injured by Alexander Cruden

The first Almshouse (poor house) established in Boston


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu published (as 'Sophia') Woman's Superior Excellence over Man.


Parliament enacted An Act for Regulating Madhouses, which for the first time gave physicians the power to commit.


One of the earliest records dealing with the issue of insanity among African-Americans was in 1745 when the South Carolina Colonial assembly took up the case of Kate, a slave woman, who had been accused of killing a child. After being placed in the local jail, it was determined that Kate was “out of her Senses” and she was not brought to trial. However, the problem of how to care for Kate was an issue since her owner was too poor to pay for her confinement and South Carolina had made no provision for the public maintenance of slaves. Ultimately, the colonial assembly passed an act that made each parish in the colony responsible for the public maintenance of lunatic slaves whose owners were unable to care for them (McCandless, 1997). Not surprisingly, there is no further record of what happened to Kate or what circumstances led to the murder of the child.

Hannah Snell enlisted in the English army, disguised as a man. She became a marine, and her true sex was not discovered until 1750.


Benjamin Rush was born in Philadelphia. He was about 15 years old when he graduated from the College of New Jersey at Princeton and decided that his life career should be as a doctor. He is widely identified as the father of American psychiatry.


Bills of Enclosure forced many farmers off their lands which ended in high unemployment and riots, the relief taxes started growing out of control again


The Acts and Laws of His Majesty’s English Colony of Connecticut in New England in America provided an Act for Relieving, and Ordering of Idiots, Impotent, Distracted, and Idle Persons. This act stated that those considered “idiots, impotent, distracted, and idle persons” should be cared for at home by their closest relative. If such a person had no relative then the town or the colony itself took direct responsibility.


The gyrator, as its name suggests was a contraption similar to a spoke on a wheel.  The patient was strapped to the board head outward and the wheel was rotated at a high rate of speed, sending the blood racing to his head and supposedly relieving his congested brain.

Around the mid-1700s, the Dutch Dr. Boerhaave invented the “gyrating chair” that became a popular tool in Europe and the United States. This instrument was intended to shake up the blood and tissues of the body to restore equilibrium, but instead resulted in rendering the patient unconscious without any recorded successes

Amy Hutchinson of Ely became the first documented female poisoner when she laced her husband's ale with arsenic. She was convicted of 'petit treason' and burned to death.


First mental hospital in the United States, Pennsylvania University Hospital where a basement was reserved for people identified as mentally ill. It began admitting mentally disturbed patients in 1752. Pennsylvania authorized the Benjamin Franklin-founded Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia to accommodate mental patients. An 1895 history reported: “In the earlier days of the Hospital, even down to quite recent times, the mode of commitment of the insane was so easy and free from formality that a few words hastily scribbled upon a chance piece of paper were sufficient to place a supposedly insane person in the Hospital and deprive him of personal liberty... [After application to the hospital managers or a physician, the person was admitted.] Once in his cells, or quarters for the insane, the patient had no appeal from the opinion of the attending physician."

Publication of Beauty's Triumph, or the Superiority of the Fair Sex invincibly Proved. (Anon).


George Ballard (Magdalen College, Oxford) published Memoirs of Several Ladies of Great Britain who have been celebrated for their Writings or Skill in the Learned Languages.


The Adventures of Alexander the Corrector, Wherein Is Given an Account of His Being Unjustly Sent to Chelsea, and of His Bad Usage during the Time of his Chelsea Campaign . . . with an Account of the Chelsea-Academies, or the Private Places for the Confinement of Such As Are Supposed to Be Deprived of the Exercise of Their Reason by Alexander Cruden.  


Samuel Heinicke establishes first oral school for the deaf in the world in Germany.

Charles Michel Abbe del' Epee establishes first free school for the deaf in the world, Paris, France.

Mrs Eliza Haywood published The Female Spectator, the first magazine for women written by a woman. (Pub. as 'Anon' - only in the 7th edition was her name printed.)

Probably the first electroconvulsive treatment for mental illness was administered by the French physician J. B. LeRoy in 1755 on a patient with a psychogenic blindness.


Having procured an apparatus on purpose, I ordered several persons to be electrified who were ill of various disorders; some of whom found an immediate, some a gradual, cure. From this time I appointed, first some hours in every week and afterward an hour in every day, wherein any that desired it might try the virtue of this surprising medicine.... To this day, while hundreds, perhaps thousands, have received unspeakable good, I have not known one man, woman, or child, who has received any hurt thereby; so when I hear any talk of the danger of being electrified (especially if they are medical men who talk so), I cannot but impute it to great want either of sense or honesty. JOHN WESLEY (English evangelist and founder of Methodism), journal, 9 November 1756. Comment: “The desideratum [: or, electricity made plain and useful. By a lover of mankind, and of common sense] was written to popularize what he considered the cheapest, safest, and most successful treatment for ‘nervous Cases of every Kind,’ namely electricity” (Richard Hunter and Ida Macalpine, eds., “John Wesley,” Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry (1535-1860), 1963). The desideratum was published in 1760.



Benjamin Franklin introduced a form of ECT, for which the rich were expected to make a donation of sixpence, but the poor 'to be electrified gratis'.


William Battie (1703-1776) was a pioneer in the care of mental patients (from whose name the term 'batty' is derived), who helped raise the 'mad business' to a respectable medical specialty. He wrote Treatise on Madness in 1758, calling for treatments to be utilized on rich and poor mental patients alike in asylums, helping make psychiatry a respectable profession, and was founding medical officer of St Luke's Hospital in London. He was part of a new school of thought, that institutionalizing patients in asylums was in itself therapeutic: their purpose in confining individuals was not just to protect them and society, but was in itself curative. He recognized that mental nurses needed special training, and wrote that madness is 'as manageable as many other distempers' and that its victims 'ought by no means to be abandoned, much less shut up in loathsome prisons as criminals or nuisances to the society'. He advocated therapeutic asylums as opposed to prisons.

Lucy Hutchinson published her republican history of the Interregnum (she also wrote about her early life and the biography of Elizabeth Cary was written by one of her daughters)


Thomas Braidwood opened first school for the deaf in England.

Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris (INJS) school for the deaf founded in Paris, France.


Catherine Macaulay published History of England (in eight volumes, final one pub. 1783).


Publication of An Unfortunate Mother's Advice to her Absent Daughters, in a letter to Miss Pennington. 4th edition. (Anon.)


Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser (Mrs Lloyd) became the first two women elected to the Royal Academy.


Benjamin Rush gets his degree from the University of Edinburgh and returned to the United States to become the first professor of chemistry in the American colonies and later University of Pennsylvania‚s first professor of medicine. He was also one of the patriot plotters of the Revolution, a member of Congress, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Rush was named Physician General of the Continental Army. He came to the conclusion that heavy drinking was destroying the fighting ability of more American soldiers then British weapons ever would. He studied the effects of intemperance and decided its greatest cause was the false view the general public had of alcohol as a health tonic and medicinal cure all.

The term neurosis was coined by Doctor William Cullen (Scottish) to refer to "disorders of sense and motion" caused by a "general affection of the nervous system."


New therapies at this time included water immersion: “the greatest remedy is to throw the patient unwarily into the sea, and to keep him under water as long as he can possibly bear without being stifled.” Another method was a special spinning stool which spun the patient round until he was dizzy. The spinning was supposed to rearrange the brain contents into the right positions. Another specialist created a novel form of drama therapy involving lion's dens and executions which was part of a concept of 'non-injurious torture'. Other doctors believed in horse-riding, and George Cheyne, who saw melancholia as a particularly English condition, advocated a milk, seed and vegetable diet. Even King George III was subjected to hot irons, enemas and emetics and was chained to his bed in a straitjacket.


The Boston Massacre took place between the British and the statesmen, there was growing frustrations against Britain by the states.

A law was passed in England against women entrapping husbands by 'scents, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, high-heeled shoes or bolstered hips'.


Pageant: James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw's life narrative

The earliest recorded mutual self-help societies of individuals with alcohol abuse problems are created by Native Americans - White WL. Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery, Lighthouse Institute Publications, 1998.


The first public mental hospital, Williamsburg Asylum, is established in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds was the first building in North America devoted solely to the treatment of the mentally ill. It was later named the Eastern Lunatic Asylum. Dr. Benjamin Rush, of the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, begins pioneering efforts to improve mental health treatment leading him to be known as the "Father of American Psychiatry". Dr. Rush also articulates the concept of alcoholism as a disease and is among the first individuals to prescribe abstinence from alcohol as the sole remedy. It is later renamed Eastern Hospital. Three years before the Declaration of Independence was written, the first mental health hospital in U.S., named Eastern State Hospital, opens in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1773. On October 12, 1773, the first patient was admitted to the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds in Williamsburg, Virginia, the first North American facility of its kind. The governor, an Enlightenment man, had prevailed upon the assembly to create a place where "a poor unhappy set of people who are deprived of their senses and wander about the countryside, terrifying the rest of their fellow creatures" could, with the help of experts, reclaim their "lost reason." The Governor pressed for the facility because he believed science could be employed to cure "persons who are so unhappy as to be deprived of their reason." He was concerned about "a poor unhappy set of people who are deprived of their senses and wander about the countryside, terrifying the rest of their fellow creatures." He proposed a hospital for these unfortunates staffed by doctors who would "endeavour to restore to them their lost reason." There were 24 cells, each had a strong door with a barred window that looked on a central hall, a mattress, a chamber pot, and an iron ring in the wall to which the patient's wrist or leg fetters were attached. The cells were reserved for dangerous individuals or for patients who might be treated and discharged. In those days, treatment consisted of restraint, strong drugs, plunge baths and other "shock" water treatment, bleeding, and blistering salves. An electrostatic machine was installed. In 1790, the hospital was expanded and, in 1799, two dungeon like cells were dug "under the first floor of the hospital for reception of patients who may be in a state of raving phrenzy." Over the next 100 years, the rest of the country followed suit, taking "lunaticks" out of cages in jail basements after Boston schoolteacher Dorothea Dix happened into one such dungeon in 1841 and launched a fact-finding and activism rampage that led to the establishment of 110 public psych hospitals by 1880.

Tranquilizer Chair - Benjamin Rush, the “father of American psychiatry,” theorized that insanity was caused by “morbid” qualities in the blood, leading him to conclude that as much as “four-fifths of the blood in the body” should be drawn away; Rush bled one patient 47 times, removing four gallons of blood over time. He also strapped patients horizontally to a board and spun them around at great speeds. He confined others in his “Tranquilizer Chair' that completely immobilized every part of their body for long periods and blocked their sight with a bizarre wooden shroud, while they were doused in ice-cold water.

Dr. Benjamin Rush’s portrait still adorns the official seal of the American Psychiatric Association. As part of his program to improve the care given mental patients admitted to the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Rush struck at the hearsay, superstition, and ignorance surrounding mental illness. He introduced occupational therapy, amusements, and exercise for patients and saw to it that they had decent, clean quarters. The person most responsible for the early spread of moral treatment in the United States was Benjamin Rush (1745–1813), an eminent physician at Pennsylvania Hospital. He limited his practice to mental illness and developed innovative, humane approaches to treatment. He required that the hospital hire intelligent and sensitive attendants to work closely with patients, reading and talking to them and taking them on regular walks. He also suggested that it would be therapeutic for doctors to give small gifts to their patients every so often. However, Rush's treatment methods included bloodletting (bleeding), purging, hot and cold baths, mercury, and strapping patients to spinning boards and “tranquilizer” chairs.

In England a Bill passed the Commons on The Regulation of Private Madhouses, but it was thrown out by the Lords.

The Boston tea party shows America’s non compliance with the Kings rules.

Poor Law in England stipulated that fathers must pay towards support of illegitimate children.

Mr Russell published Essay on the Character, Manners and Genius of Women in different ages. Enlarged from the French of M. Thomas.


In England it became essential to produce a medical certificate confirming insanity before non-pauper lunatics could be confined, but the rights of paupers were totally disregarded. For the wealthy there was still the far more human alternative of being the individual private patient of a doctor or clergyman.

One More Proof of the Iniquitous Abuse of Private Madhouses by Samuel Bruckshaw.  

The Case, Petition, and Address of Samuel Bruckshaw, who Suffered a Most Severe Imprisonment, for Very Near the Whole Year, Loaded with Irons, without Being Heard in his Defense, Nay Even without Being Accused, and at Last Denied an Appeal to a Jury.  Humbly Offered to the Perusal and Consideration of the Public by Samuel Bruckshaw.

On July 28, 1774, Franz Otto Mesmer, a Viennese doctor stumbled on what may have been a clue to mental illness. Mesmer, an Austrian doctor who believed that "animal magnetism" would cure medical illness, seemed to be successful at treating hysteria in group sessions. Although his ideas and methods met with skepticism and ridicule within the medical profession and he was forced to retire, the concepts of suggestion and hypnotism survived. He was treating a twenty nine year old woman who suffered from severe episodes of convulsions (beginning with headache, and followed by delerium, vomiting, paroxysms of rage, then a partial paralysis).  On this day he tried something new, and brought to her bed three magnets, placing one over each leg and a third heart-shaped one on her stomach. She convulsed…then was amazingly free of pain! Following a few more treatments her attacks disappeared completely…though they later returned and further treatment was required. For the most part Mesmer was judged a “quack” by his colleagues and accused of fraud. Mesmer's discovery that one man may possess enough power over another to relieve psychic illness led to the knowledge that, with help, man possesses the power within himself to heal himself. In effect, Mesmer mesmerized his patients and helped open the door to psychoanalysis. Franz Mesmer detailed his cure for some mental illness, originally called mesmerism and now known as hypnosis.

The First Continental Congress met and the first shots at the American Revolution rang out.

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Patrick and Sarah Henry: Mental illness in 18th century America

By Rose Gallenberger is a graduate student in the Public History program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, June 23, 2015

Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's disability history collections and write blog posts sharing their research. 

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" School children learn these words that Patrick Henry exclaimed on the eve of the American Revolution. However, that is nearly all most Americans know about this Founding Father from Virginia. This year's anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a good time to recover the history of how people in the past, including statesmen such as Patrick Henry, understood disability. Henry's wife, Sarah Shelton Henry, dealt with depression and violent outbursts. Despite recommendations, together they refused to place her in a hospital, instead providing care for her at home until her death.

iolet postage stamp featuring portrait of Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry postage stamp, issued October 1958. Collections of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

Patrick and Sarah knew each other from childhood and fell in love. They married in 1754 at a very young age, even by 18th century American standards. He was 18 and she 16, and together they had six children. After the sixth child, Sarah became increasingly unwell.

There is little information on the specific nature of Sarah's illness, nor is there a record of Sarah's participation in decisions about her treatment. But there is no doubt that she experienced mental instability. She was ill in 1774 with signs dating back to 1767. She was emotionally unsettled and became violent at times, to the point that she had to be restrained by a strait-dress (an early form of a strait-jacket) to prevent her from harming herself and others. Patrick knew he had to do something to help his wife and care for his family.

Mental illness was understood very differently in the 18th century compared to now. The populace generally viewed it as sinful and criminal, a sign of the devil. A new hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, the Eastern State Hospital, opened in 1773 specifically for the mentally ill. It served as an alternative to prison or other punishments. The treatments were harsh but also common—patients were bled, blistered, subjected to pain, shock, and terror. They were dunked in water and restrained, resulting in injury or death. The fact that there was an institution separate from almshouses and hospitals for treating the mentally ill is noteworthy. Eastern State Hospital represented progress in care for the mentally ill.

olor photo of large brick building with turret in center, white windows, on grassy lawn

The Hospital's rebuilt original 1773 building as it stands today in Williamsburg, Virginia Reconstruction. Photograph by Ryan Lintelman via Wikimedia Commons. February 28, 2006.

Patrick Henry, who had spent much time in Williamsburg, knew about the hospital and refused to send Sarah there. The Henrys were a family of some wealth, and this probably helped in the decision for Sarah to remain at their home, Scotchtown Plantation. They created a small apartment for her in a sunny section of the mansion's basement. Patrick assigned a slave to serve as a nurse to her, and he also aided directly in her care. He and the children visited her often, and their eldest daughter and her husband moved home to help care for her mother. Sarah died in 1775, possibly of suicide, but historians do not know the exact cause of her death.

hite building with steps at entrance and grassy lawn, color photo.

Scotchtown, residence of Patrick and Sarah Shelton Henry. Courtesy of Preservation Virginia.

Patrick had the option to send Sarah away to an institution, and although ground-breaking at the time, hospitalization would have resulted in a much lower quality of life for his wife. Whether his decision was a result of love for his wife or concern for his reputation and political ambition, his approach to mental illness was remarkably innovative for the 18th century. The example of Sarah Shelton Henry and the Eastern State Hospital mark the beginning of a wave of reform in the approach to mental illness and disability.

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The Battle of Bunker Hill, then Paul Revere's famous ride through the night which called to the statesmen that the British were coming and it was time to act.

Mrs Hester Chapone published Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, with a Dedication to Mrs Elizabeth Carter.


The Declaration of Independence is adopted on July 4 by action of the Second Continental Congress. Stephen Hopkins, a man with cerebral palsy, is one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins is known for saying "my hands may tremble, my heart does not."

Benjamin Rush, MD (1746–1813), signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dean of the Medical School at the University of Pennsylvania and the “Father of American Psychiatry,” described Negroes as suffering from an affliction called Negritude, which was thought to be a mild form of leprosy. The only cure for the disorder was to become white. It is unclear as to how many cases of Negritude were successfully treated. The irony of Rush’s medical observations was that he was a leading mental health reformer and co-founder of the first anti-slavery society in America. Rush’s portrait still adorns the official seal of the American Psychiatric Association. However, Dr. Rush’s observation, “The Africans become insane, we are told, in some instances, soon after they enter upon the toils of perpetual slavery in the West Indies,” is not often cited in discussions of mental illness and African-Americans, however valuable it might be in understanding the traumatic impact of enslavement and oppression on Africans and their descendants.

Inhabitants of Bedlam were a tourist attraction.

Thomas Paine published his pamphlet called "Common Sense", The colonists wrote the Declaration of Independence that stated, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." They adopted a flag of their own.

During the second Continental Congress, Abigail Adams entreats her husband John to "remember the ladies" in the new code of laws he is writing.


American Founding Fathers wrote the Articles of Confederation

John Howard completes his study of English prison life and inhumane treatment of prisoners; his study influences reform efforts in the United States.

Arnoldi, a German pastor, believed education of the deaf should begin as early as four years.

English Publication of The Law Respecting Women as they Regard their Natural Rights, or their Connections and Conduct.


Austrian physician Franz Mesmer believed that human bodies contained a magnetic fluid that was affected by the planets and determined one’s health depending on its distribution. Mesmer concluded that all persons were capable of using their own magnetic forces to affect the magnetic fluid in others and considered himself to be powerful enough to cure illnesses with his “animal magnetism.” Mesmer gained a large following when he opened a clinic in Paris 1778 and started practicing his “mesmerism.” In order to affect cures, several patients at a time were seated around a tub containing various chemicals. Iron rods attached to the tub were applied to the afflicted parts of their body (as patients were generally hysterical and experiencing numbness or paralysis), after which Mesmer would emerge in light purple robe and circle around the room touching the patients either with his hand or with a wand. Although Mesmer’s techniques reportedly were effective, he was branded a fraud by his medical colleagues, and his “cures” were later believed to be the result of hypnotism, a psychoanalytic practice


Benjamin Rush published his "Directions for Preserving the Health of Soldiers", where he refuted that liquor relieved fatigue, sustained hard labor, and protected a man against heat, cold, fevers, and other common diseases. When Rush retired he devoted himself to research of the mind and body. Rush was among the first to advance the theory that "mental" problems often could be traced to diseases of the body. He became convinced that heavy drinking was a medical, moral, and social evil, and the public needed to be educated about it.

Fanny Burney published Evelina.



In England, the Penitentiary Act, drafted by Prison reformer John Howard, introduced state prisons as an alternative to the death penalty or transportation. The prison population had risen after the US Declaration of Independence, because the American Colonies had been used as the destination for transported criminals. Howard's 1777 report had identified appalling conditions in most of the prisons he inspected. The Howard League for Penal Reform emerged as a result, publishing in 2006 the findings of an independent inquiry by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC into physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, secure training centres and local authority secure children's homes.

The Ladies of LLangollen - Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831) and Lady Eleanor Butler - eloped and set up home together.


Royalist Margaret Cavendish's pubished her science-fiction utopia The Blazing World.

English Justice Buller opined that a man may beat his wife.


The Gilbert Act established poor houses and gave the poor the right to work and not just draw support.

William Alexander M.D. published The History of Women from the Earliest Antiquity to the Present Time 3rd edition.


Constructed in 1784, the Lunatics’ Tower in Vienna became a showplace. The elaborately decorated round tower contained square rooms in which the staff lived. The patients were housed in the spaces between the walls of the rooms and the wall of the tower and, like at Bedlam, were put on display for public amusement. When staff did attempt to cure the patients, they followed the practices typical of the time period—purging and bloodletting, the most common. Other treatments included dousing the patient in either hot or ice-cold water to shock their minds back into a normal state. The belief that patients needed to choose rationality over insanity led to techniques aiming to intimidate: blistering, physical restraints, threats, and straitjackets were employed to achieve this end. Powerful drugs (chloryl hydrate, bromides, and barbiturates) were also administered, for example, to a hysterical patient in order to exhaust them.

After seeing a group of blind men being cruelly exhibited in a Paris sideshow, Valentin Valentin Haüy, known as the "father and apostle of the blind," establishes the Institution for Blind Children to help make life for the blind more "tolerable." Huay also discovered that sightless persons could read texts printed with raised letters.

Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles (INJA) school for the blind founded in Paris, France.

Benjamin Rush published his Inquiry into the "Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body and Mind", the first scientific attack against alcohol. He said alcohol had no nutritional value and instead of improving health it aggravated most diseases and caused many. It might be okay to consume an occasional beer or wine, but whiskey and rum caused a man to be stupid, loud, cruel, filthy, and obscene.


Under the Enlightened concern of Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo in Florence, Italian physician Vincenzo Chiarugi instituted humanitarian reforms. Between 1785 and 1788 he managed to outlaw chains as a means of restraint at the Santa Dorotea hospital, building on prior attempts made there since the 1750s. From 1788 at the newly renovated St. Bonifacio Hospital he did the same, and led the development of new rules establishing a more humane regime. 


The U.S. Constitution is completed in Convention on September 17. The Constitution was drawn up, the Federalist Essays were written in support of the constitution and against those that did not believe in it.

Mary Wollstonecraft published Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, with Reflections on Female Conduct.

In the month of November, 1787, a porter of the India warehouses was sent to me by a lady of great humanity for advice, being in a state of melancholy [for almost a year], induced by the death of one of his children.... He was quiet, would suffer his wife to lead him about the house, but he never spoke to her; he sighed frequently, and was inattentive to everything that passed.... I covered his head with a flannel, and rubbed the electric sparks all over the cranium; he seemed to feel it disagreeable, but said nothing. On the second visit, finding no inconvenience had ensued, I passed six small shocks through the brain in different directions. As soon as he got into an adjoining room, and saw his wife, he spoke to her, and in the evening was cheerful, expressing himself, as if he thought he should soon go to his work again. I repeated the shock in like manner on the third and fourth day, after which he went to work: I desired to see him every Sunday, which I did for three months after, and he remained perfectly well. JOHN BIRCH (English surgeon), “John Birch,” published in Richard Hunter and Ida Macalpine, eds., Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry (1535-1860), 1963.


The Constitution is ratified into law.

Sisterhood of Hand-Spinners formed in Leicester, possibly the first female trades union.


During the Enlightenment attitudes towards the mentally ill began to change. It came to be viewed as a disorder that required compassionate treatment that would aid in the rehabilitation of the victim. When the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom George III, who suffered from a mental disorder, experienced a remission in 1789, mental illness came to be seen as something which could be treated and cured. The introduction of moral treatment was initiated independently by the French doctor Philippe Pinel and the English Quaker William Tuke.


Work Houses were established so the poor could make clothing.

The colony of New Jersey grants the vote to "all free inhabitants."

The first state public orphanage is founded in Charleston, South Carolina.

Catherine Macaulay published Letters on Education.


The Bill of Rights is ratified on December 15 by Virginia; 10 of the 12 proposed amendments became part of the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights was amended to the U.S. Constitution. The first ten amendments were drawn up to limit governmental powers and protect the basic rights and liberties of individuals. The Bill of Rights includes the following basic ideas: 1. seperation of church and state 2. need for a regulated militia and right to bear arms 3. no quartering of soldiers 4. no unreasonable search and seizures 5. prohibits criminal charges without trial by jury of peers 6. right to a speedy public trial with an impartial jury 7. juries can be demanded for civil cases 8. no excessive bail or fines 9. these rights shall not infringe on rights of other people 10. powers given to the United States government and not prohibited to the states are reserved to the states or to the people

Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women.


William Tuke (1732-1822), a Quaker tea merchant, founded the Retreat at York.  Tuke was the patriarch of a notable Quaker family from York, England. Tuke admired Pinel greatly and followed his ideas, providing an atmosphere of benevolence, comfort and sympathy for his patients. William Tuke's son Henry (1755-1814) and grandson Samuel (1784-1857) continued at York in the same humanitarian spirit.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft seeks changes in the education for women and kinder treatment by husbands and lovers. 


Philippe Pinel released the first mental patients from confinement in the first massive movement for more humane treatment of the mentally ill. French physician Phillipe Pinel was appointed to Bicêtre Hospital in south Paris, ordering chains removed from mental patients, and founding Moral Treatment. In 1809 he published the first description of dementia praecox (schizophrenia). According to psychiatric legend, French psychologist Phillip Pinel strikes the chains from mental patients held in the Bastille in France. Paris had two madhouses, the Bicetre and the Salpetriere. Philip Pinel (1745-1826), the leading French psychiatrist of his day, was the first to say that the "mentally deranged" were diseased rather than sinful or immoral. In 1793, he removed the chains and restraints from the inmates at the Bicetre Asylum, and later from those at Salpetriere. Along with the English reformer William Turk, he originated the method of "moral management," using gentle treatment and patience rather than physical abuse and chains on hospital patients. Conditions were horrific! Crying, screaming depressed men and women lived in damp dungeons without light or air in chains, guarded by convicts who treated them like wild beasts.


Phillipe Pinel writes Treatise on Insanity in which he develops a four-part medical classification for the major mental illnesses: melancholy, dementia, mania without delirium, and mania with delirium. Philip Pinel (1745-1826), the leading French psychiatrist of his day, was the first to say that the “mentally deranged” were diseased rather than sinful or immoral. In 1793, he removed the chains and restraints from the inmates at the Bicetre asylum, and later from those at Salpetriere. Along with the English reformer William Tuke, he originated the method of “moral management,” using gentle treatment and patience rather than physical abuse and chains on hospital patients. Pinel is credited with revolutionizing the Hospitals in France but in fact the humanitarian reforms were begun by Jean-Baptiste Pussin and his wife. Pussin had himself been a patient at the Bicetre, and it became the policy there to choose staff from among recovered or convalescing patients. Pinel described these people as best placed to understand the needs of the inmates as a result of what they themselves had experienced (Peer Support!). Pinel went on to Salpetriere where he carried out similar reforms, establishing a regime of study and medical care to replace the bloodletting, purging and ducking that had previously been used. Chiarugi in Italy as well as Tuke in England independently arrived at the same conclusions at the same time or earlier. The ex-patient Jean-Baptiste Pussin and his wife Margueritte, and the physician Philippe Pinel (1745–1826), are also recognized as the first instigators of more humane conditions in asylums. From the early 1780s, Pussin had been in charge of the mental hospital division of the La Bicêtre, an asylum in Paris for male patients. From the mid 1780s, Pinel was publishing articles on links between emotions, social conditions and insanity. In 1792 (formally recorded in 1793), Pinel became the chief physician at the Bicetre. Pussin showed Pinel how really knowing the patients meant they could be managed with sympathy and kindness as well as authority and control. In 1797, Pussin first freed patients of their chains and banned physical punishment, although straitjackets could be used instead. Patients were allowed to move freely about the hospital grounds, and eventually dark dungeons were replaced with sunny, well-ventilated rooms. Pussin and Pinel's approach was seen as remarkably successful and they later brought similar reforms to a mental hospital in Paris for female patients, La Salpetrière. Pinel's student and successor, Jean Esquirol (1772–1840), went on to help establish 10 new mental hospitals that operated on the same principles. There was an emphasis on the selection and supervision of attendants in order to establish a suitable setting to facilitate psychological work, and particularly on the employment of ex-patients as they were thought most likely to refrain from inhumane treatment while being able to stand up to pleading, menaces, or complaining. Pinel used the term “traitement moral” for the new approach. “Moral” in French had a mixed meaning of both psychological/emotional and moral. Before the Enlightenment, the mentally ill were treated in inhumane ways - such as being chained, beaten and starved. There seemed to be no effective treatment available. In 1793, Pinel challenged this idea when he removed the chains from patients at the Asylum de Bicêtre in Paris. He replaced purging, bleeding and blistering with simple humane psychological treatments such as separating patients and categorising them according to different disorders, along with observing and talking to patients. Before Pinel, 60% of the patients at Asylum de Bicêtre died of disease, suicide or other causes within their first 2 years of admission. Under Pinel’s supervision, this decreased to less than 20%. Pinel thought that those suffering from mental illness could be rehabilitated and released back into society. His theories on mental illness were the first to span both physiological and psychological explanations. He suggested that mental illness was the consequence of having too much social or psychological stress, or the result of either hereditary causes or damage to the body. He is credited as the first person to keep written case studies on patients, which concentrated on their long-term treatment. Pinel saw asylums as places for treatment and not places to hide the mentally ill. They were to be places where patients were seen as sick human beings deserving of dignity, compassion and medical treatment. Under Pinel, who lived from 1745 to 1826, the place of residence for the mentally ill was converted from a mad house into a hospital. His reforms were soon emulated all over Europe.

The US Congress passes fugitive slave laws


In England, the Speenhamland System, an amendment to the Poor Law, named after a meeting at the Pelican Inn in Speenhamland, Berkshire, where the local magistrates or squirearchy devised the system as a means to alleviate hardship caused by a spike in grain prices. Families were paid extra to top up wages to a set level, which varied according to the number of children and the price of bread. For example if bread was 1s 2d a loaf, the wages of a family with two children was topped up to 8s 6d. If bread rose to 1s 8d the wages were topped up to 11s 0d. The system aggravated the underlying causes of poverty, allowing employers (often farmers) to pay below subsistence wages, because the parish made up the difference to keep their workers alive. Low incomes remained unchanged and the poor rate contributors subsidised the farmers, so that landowners sought other means of dealing with the poor e.g. the workhouse. The Poor Law Commissioners' Report of 1834 called the Speenhamland System a "universal system of pauperism."

Maria Edgeworth published Letters for Literary Ladies.


“Address to Humanity, Containing a Letter to Dr. Thomas Monro; a Receipt to Make a Lunatic, and Seize his Estate and a Sketch of a True Smiling Hyena” by William Belcher.

Founded in 1796, the York Retreat in York, England was run by William Tuke and other Quakers who stressed the importance of treating all people with respect and compassion, even the mentally ill. In keeping faithful to this ideal, the York Retreat was a pleasant country house, modeled on a domestic lifestyle, that allowed patients to live, work, and rest in a warm and religious environment that emphasized mildness, reason, and humanity.


Publication of The Rights of Infants by the revolutionary philosopher, Thomas Spence.


Massachusetts enacts the first law regarding insane people as a special group of dependents.

Thomas Gisborne M.A. published An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex.

Mary Hays published An Appeal to the Men of Great Britain on Behalf of the Women (Anon.)


John Haslam (British) describes general paralysis of the insane in Observations of Insanity, a condition that is now known to be caused by syphilis.

The U.S. Public Health Service is established following severe epidemics in Eastern sea-board cities, which were caused by diseases brought into the country as a result of increased shipping and immigration.

Priscilla Wakefield published Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex, with Suggestions for its Improvement


Edward Moore published Fables for the Female Sex.

Mary Ann Radcliffe published The Female Advocate, or an attempt to Recover the Rights of Women from Male Usurpation.

Anne Frances Randall (pseud. of Mary Darby Robinson) published Letter to the Women of England on the Injustice of Mental Subordination.


At the beginning of the nineteenth century a public outcry about conditions in asylums led to the setting up of a select committee 'to consider of provision being made for the better regulation of madhouses in England'. The report describes appalling conditions of inadequate clothing, cramped and crowded accommodation filthy with excrement on straw, with patients chained to the walls, and in one case, a surgeon who was known to be drunk and insane. As David Stafford-Clark wrote in Psychiatry Today, “It may seem beyond belief that physicians could contemplate other human beings naked, cold, crusted with their own excrement, chained and starving in the dark on stone floors, without pity and without remorse.  But they could, and they did, and it is only by the exertions and the example of exceptional men that our own standards have been raised above this appalling state.” Asylum staff spent much of their working life locked away with their patients. Husband and wife teams were a feature of asylum organization in the early 19th century, many sharing their home life with their patients. In Britain, one such couple was George and Catherine Jepson at the Retreat in York, and Dr. and Mrs. Ellis at the Hanwell Asylum. Patients who came under these humanitarian regimes were lucky; many more were kept in conditions where fear and cruelty prevailed.

Description: J_Hydrotherapytubs

In America, the recognition of excessive drinking as an addiction emerged between 1790 and 1830. Inebriates found themselves non-speciality places - jails, county farms, almshouses, water cure institutions, and insane asylums. Failure to control or rehabilitate inebriates lead to a call for new approaches and the rise of Inebriate Asylums. Using a medical approach, people began thinking about excessive drinking as an inherited or acquired disease and could be cured in special institutions set up for that purpose. Emphasized physical causes of the disorder and used physical methods of treatment such as: drug therapies; aversion therapy; hydrotherapy; and, electrical stimulation.

In the first part of the 19th century, a lot of doctors, such as Conolly, Kirkbride, Bucknill, and Daniel Hack Tuke were proud to work in the new asylums. There was also a new endeavor to study insanity. Esquirol in France followed the lead given by Pinel in attempting a classification of mental disorder. A line of successors in France and later in Germany culminated in Emil Kraepelin (1855-1927), a student of Wundt's, who produced a systematic classification of mental disease which forms the basis of modern systems. This is an attempt at grouping by causes as well as by symptoms, and in Kraepelin's work can be seen the merging of two psychological traditions: the experimental and the medical. At the same time growth in populations of asylums mirrored growth in unemployment and poverty following social upheaval caused by industrial revolution. An English Quaker named William Tuke (1732–1819) independently led the development of a radical new type of institution in northern England, following the death of a fellow Quaker in a local asylum in 1790. In 1796, with the help of fellow Quakers and others, he founded the York Retreat, where eventually about 30 patients lived as part of a small community in a quiet country house and engaged in a combination of rest, talk, and manual work. Rejecting medical theories and techniques, the efforts of the York Retreat centered around minimizing restraints and cultivating rationality and moral strength. The entire Tuke family became known as some of the founders of moral treatment. They created a family-style ethos and patients performed chores to give them a sense of contribution. There was a daily routine of both work and leisure time. If patients behaved well, they were rewarded; if they behaved poorly, there was some minimal use of restraints or instilling of fear. The patients were told that treatment depended on their conduct. In this sense, the patient's moral autonomy was recognized. William Tuke's grandson, Samuel Tuke, published an influential work in the early 19th century on the methods of the retreat; Pinel's Treatise On Insanity had by then been published, and Samuel Tuke translated his term as “moral treatment”.

The 18th century saw the beginning of modern psychology as a separate discipline. The word psychology was used in the first half of the century to mean the secular philosophical analysis and interpretation of mental phenomena. In the latter half of the 19th century its reference shifted from a predominantly philosophic to a predominantly scientific study of mental phenomena. Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) is commonly regarded as the founder of scientific psychology. Although other people began experimental psychology earlier, Wundt had the first laboratory for teaching and research in the subject. Alexander Bain (1818-1903) was not an experimenter but wrote two very influential books, The Senses and the Intellect (1855) and The Emotions and the Will (1859). At the same time there were considerable influences from the growing understanding of the physiology of the nervous system.

One development of the late 18th century which had a significant influence on the development of psychological practice was Mesmerism. Franz Mesmer began by using magnets in the belief that they exercised some influence on the human body. He later abandoned this notion, but induced a number of phenomena which are now recognized as suggestion and hypnosis. Others in the 19th century took up mesmerism as an aid to medicine, and it was James Braid who attributed the phenomena to processes within the person, expectations arising from suggestion coupled with a narrowing of attention. An active school of hypnosis developed in Paris under the leadership of J.M. Charcot who established a notable neurological clinic at La Salpetriere. His work influenced Ribot who established a psychological laboratory under Beaunis and Binet.

Charcot teaching about “hysteria” with “Blanche” (Marie Wittman)

In the closing years of the 19th century several medical psychologists were developing psychogenic theories of the neuroses. Outstanding among them were Pierre Janet (1859-1949) and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), a pupil and protégé of Charcot. Janet's view was that the neurotic lacked sufficient mental energy to hold his psyche together in a state of integration; as a result parts of it functioned in disassociation from the rest. Freud's view by contrast was that there were diverse mental energies in conflict with one another. Early in the development of his theory he spoke of the sex instincts versus the moral instincts; later of libido versus ego, and finally of eros (life instincts) versus thanatos (death instincts). Freud also proposed three major components to the psyche (strangely translated from German into Latin rather than English by his translators): das Es (the It, or Id) symbolizing instinct or unconscious desire, das Ich (the I, or Ego) and das UberIch (the Upper-I, conscience or Superego). Freud's ideas are the basis for psychoanalytic theory. Although this began as a contribution to psychopathology, it quickly expanded into a more general theory. The interpretation of dreams, the explanation of slips of the tongue and of the pen, and an account of the psychic origins of art, religion and society began with Freud and have become part of everyday currency. Literature and literary criticism, art, morality and religion have all felt this influence.


There are only eight institutions for abused and neglected children in the U.S.


“The Strange Effects of Faith with Remarkable Prophecies” by Joanna Southcott  

Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard establishes the principles and methods used today in the education of the mentally disabled through his controversial work with Victor, the "wild boy of Aveyron."

Philippe Pinel in France, takes over the Bicêtre insane asylum and forbids the use of chains and shackles. He removes patients from dungeons, provides them with sunny rooms, and also allows them to exercise on the grounds. Yet in other places, mistreatment persists. Simultaneously, William Tuke in England and Eli Todd in America were working to reform treatment in their respective countries.

English census reveals that women outnumber men by 400,000 (surplus of unmarried women).


Dorothea Dix, born April 4th in Hampden, Maine, whose devotion to the mentally ill led to widespread reforms in the U.S. and abroad.  She left home at 10, was teaching school by 14, and founded a Boston home for girls while still in her teens. She was one of the first Americans to argue that mentally ill people should not be treated as criminals and imprisoned, and she established the first hospitals dedicated to humane treatment of the insane. A Boston schoolteacher, Dorothea Dix (1802–1887), made humane care a public and a political concern in the US. In 1841 Dix visited a local prison to teach Sunday school and was shocked at the conditions for the inmates. She subsequently became very interested in prison conditions and later expanded her crusade to include the poor and mentally ill people all over the country. She spoke to many state legislatures about the horrible sights she had witnessed at the prisons and called for reform. Dix fought for new laws and greater government funding to improve the treatment of people with mental disorders from 1841 until 1881, and personally helped establish 32 state hospitals that were to offer moral treatment. Many asylums were built on the so-called Kirkbride Plan.

The Factory Acts were a series of Acts of the English Parliament passed to limit the number of hours worked by women and children, first in the textile industry, then later in all industries. The Factories Act 1802, sometimes also called the "Health and Morals of Apprentices Act,"


February 14, 1803 John Thomas Perceval, founder of the Alleged Lunatics Friend Society born (Gault, H. 2010, p.49). He died 1876.

Mary Hays published Female Biography.

Methodist conference bans women from preaching.


First woman jockey to compete in a horse race: Alicia Meynell (age 22), riding Colonel Thornton's 20 year-old-horse horse Vingarillo against one other competitor over four miles at York. She rode side-saddle, and lost.

Aldini was reported to have cured two cases of melancholia by passing galvanic current through the brain


Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) became one of the earliest advocates of humane treatment for the mentally ill with the publication in 1805 of Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon Diseases of the Mind, the first American textbook of psychiatry. Rush wrote the first American book on psychiatry, Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind. The only psychiatric text in the U.S. for the next 70 years emphasized moral treatment: respect and re-education, not punishment.


The Philanthropic Society was incorporated by Act of Parliament, sanctioning its work with juvenile delinquents and began by opening homes where children were trained in cottage industries working under the instruction of skilled tradesmen. Remaining central in development of measures dealing with young offenders the Society is now the charity, Catch 22, formerly Rainer.

Americans became aware of innovations in France and England as Philippe Pinel’s treatise on insanity appeared in 1806 with wide circulation in the United States.


New Jersey women lose their vote, with the repeal sponsored by a politician who was nearly defeated by a female voting block ten years earlier.



German physician Johann Christian Reil coined the term “psychiatry.” Reil used the term 'psychiaterie' in a short-lived journal he set up with J.C. Hoffbauer, Beytrage zur Beforderung einer Curmethode auf psychischem Wege (1808: 169). He argued there should not just be a branch of medicine (psychische Medizin) or of theology or penal practice, but a discipline in its own right with trained practitioners. He also sought to publicize the plight of the insane in the asylums, and to develop a 'psychical' method of treatment, consistent with the moral treatment movement of the times. He was critical of Frenchman Philippe Pinel, however. Reil was mainly theoretical, with little direct clinical experience, by contrast with Pinel. Reil is considered a writer within the German Romantic context and his 1803 work Rhapsodien uber die Anwendung der psychischen Kurmethode auf Geisteszeruttungen ('Rhapsodies about applying the methods of treatment to disorganized spirits') has been called the most important document of Romantic psychiatry. Reil didn't conceptualize madness as just a break from reason but as a reflection of wider social conditions, and believed that advances in civilization created more madness. He saw this as due not to physical lesions in the brain or to hereditary evil, but as a disturbance in the harmony of the mind's functions (forms of awareness or presence), rooted in the nervous system.

Franz Gall wrote about phrenology (the idea that a person’s skull shape and placement of bumps on the head can reveal personality traits.


Louis Braille is born (January 4) at Coupvray, near Paris. At three years of age an accident deprived him of his sight, and in 1819 he was sent to the Paris Blind School (originated by Valentin Hauy).

Austrian Franz Joseph Gall suggested that bumps on the skull reflected personality traits such as generosity, secretiveness and destructiveness. Start of phrenology.

An anonymous woman in Leominster became the last one in England to be ducked as a common scold.


“Madness: Exhibiting a Singular Case of Insanity, and a No Less Remarkable Difference in Medical Opinion: Developing the Nature of Assailment, and the Manner of Working Events; with a Description of the Torture Experienced by Bomb-Bursting, Lobster-Cracking, and Lengthening the Brain” by John Halsam (ed.)  

Lucy Aikin published Epistles on Women, exemplifying their Character and Condition at Various Ages.


“A Letter to Dr. R. D. Willis: to Which are Added, Copies of Three Other Letters: Published in the Hope of Rousing a Humane Nation to the Consideration of the Miseries Arising from Private Madhouses: with a Preliminary Address to Lord Erskine” by Anne Mary Crowe.  

Female lace workers combined to raise wages at Loughborough, England.


America is at war with Britian again

American physician Benjamin Rush became one of the earliest advocates of humane treatment for the mentally ill with the publication of Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon Diseases of the Mind, the first American textbook on psychiatry.


“The Second Book of Wonders” by Joanna Southcott.

Dr. Benjamin Rush became the head of the Connecticut Society for the Reformation of Morals; they had many of America’s most important citizens involved, men of wealth, political power and social prestige. This helped the wealthy take advantage of the poor. Before his death Rush predicted the day that everyone would shun rum and whiskey entirely as a matter of self-control and long and happy lives. A Dr. Billy J. Clark read Rush’s paper which he agreed with, and then rushed to his minister’s house to proclaim they were becoming drunkards which started the temperance movement. Then another man, Reverend Lyman Beecher, who was taught by his parents that liquor was evil and drinking a sin, decided to get it out of the churches. Temperance Reform: The Inebriate Homes; Reform inebriates by enlisting their involvement in the growing American temperance movement; Mutual aid societies arose such as the Washingtonians, Native American temperance societies, reform clubs; Emphasized short voluntary stays and non-physical methods of treatment; Alcoholism recovery viewed as a process of moral reform

As transportation changed and new technology came about the few wealthy land-owners and those in positions of leadership took advantage of this to grow a new industrial empire that took advantage of the poor. They created a large military and financial advantage over one sixth of humanity. This idea came to be viewed as the natural order of things, or the "White man’s rule", which they did with a mix of naivete, compassion, and brutality. The Indians were the first people that the British oppressed and defeated, no matter the cost to civilization, calling them savages because the Indians were trying to defend themselves, their territory, their customs and their values. The Indians cherished nature more then the white man cherished wealth. Then came mass production. Some Indians started to give up the fight to keep their land.

Connecticut enacts the first labor legislation to require mill owners to have children in fac-tories taught reading, writing, and arithmetic.


Elizabeth Hamilton published Letters addressed to the Daughter of a Nobleman, on the Formation of Religious and Moral Principle. 3rd edition.


Thomas H. Gallaudet departed the America for Europe to seek methods to teach the deaf.

First school for the deaf in US founded in Goochland, Virgina.


Laurent Clerc, a Deaf French man, returns to America with Thomas H. Gallaudet.

“Early Life of William Cowper” by Wiliam Cowper.  


The American School for the Deaf, the Gallaudet School, is founded in Hartford, Connecticut. This is the first permanent, free school for disabled children anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, the first permanent school for the deaf in America, opened in Hartford on April 15.


“Bethlehem Hospital” by Urbane Metcalf. 

A cobbler, John Pounds, began to use his shop in Portsmouth as a base for educational activity for local poor children neglected by other institutions. Part of his concern was also to educate his disabled nephew. The Ragged School movement subsequently found powerful support in active philanthropists when public attention was aroused to the prevalence of juvenile delinquency by Thomas Guthrie in 1840. An estimated 300,000 children passed through the London Ragged Schools alone between the early 1840s and 1881.

New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia Societies for the Prevention of Pauperism are established to help victims of the depression following the War of 1812.

After visiting Newgate Prison, Elizabeth Fry became particularly concerned at the conditions in which women prisoners and their children were held. Fry later presented evidence to the House of Commons in 1818, which led to the interior of Newgate being rebuilt with individual cells.


The U.S. House of Representatives passes a bill that grants the Connecticut Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb six sections of public land.


ongview Hospital

Longview State Hospital

According to the History of Cincinnati, “The movement for the erection of a commercial hospital in Cincinnati was inaugurated by Dr. Daniel Drake, and the plan of an insane department was added at his sole suggestion.” On January 22, 1821, Ohio’s legislature appropriated $10,000 to assist in the construction of the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum for the State of Ohio at Cincinnati. Construction was completed on January 27, 1824. It was primarily a county institution, and the state regularly contributed to its maintenance. In 1860, it became Longview State Hospital.

The first law was passed barring abortions after “quickening.”

The element Lithium was first isolated from Lithium oxide and described by English chemist William Thomas Brande.

Harriet Martineau published Female Writers on Practical Divinity (under a male pseudonym).


American School for the Deaf adds vocational training to curriculum.


The first state institution for deaf people is established in Kentucky.

Miss Sarah Berry appointed by the Dean of Wells as Registrar of the Consistorial Diaconal Court of Wells.


“Fiction or the Memories of Francis Barnett” 2 vols. by Francis Barnett.  

French physiologist Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens showed that the cerebellum played a part in coordinating movement, and concluded that the cerebrum was involved in perception and sensation.

John Stuart Mill jailed for distributing pamphlets on birth control.


The first poor house was established in New York

The House of Refuge, the first state-funded institution for juvenile delinquents, is founded in New York.


The Bureau of Indian Affairs is organized in the War Department. It is later (1849) moved to the Department of the Interior.

A decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Bradley v. State 2 Miss. (Walker) 156 (1824), allows a husband to administer only "moderate” chastisement in cases of emergency.

Hannah More published Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies.

Mrs Taylor of Ongar published Maternal Solicitude for a Daughter's best Interests. 11th edition.


“A Description of the Crimes and Horrors in the Interior of Warburton's Private Mad-House at Hoxton, Commonly Called Whibmore House” by John Mitford.

Anna Wheeler/William Thompson published Appeal of One Half of the Human Race, Women, against the Pretentions of the Other half, Men, to retain them in political and thence in civil and domestic slavery.


“Part Second of the Crimes and Horrors of the Interior of Warburton's Private Mad-Houses at Hoxton and Bethnal Green and of These Establishments in General with Reasons for Their Total Abolition” by John Mitford.  

Jean Baptiste Bouillaud read a paper before the Royal Academy of Medicine in France that argued that speech was localized in the frontal lobes, just as Josef Gall had suggested earlier based on brain injury studies.

In England, 'S.E.' wrote an impassioned letter to the Liverpool Mercury on the Condition of Women in Society.

In England, Mrs B. published Women as Professionals.


“Observations on the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Derangement. Founded on an Extensive Moral and Medical Practice in the Treatment of Lunatics. Together With the Particulars of the Sensations and Ideas of a Gentleman During Mental Alternation, Written by Himself During His Confinement.”  by Paul Slade Knight. 

The Massachusetts legislature suggests building asylums for “lunatics and persons furiously mad” then being held in jails.

Textbook on phrenology sold more than 100,000 copies.


African-Americans were frequently housed in public (as opposed to private) facilities such as the poorhouse, jail or the insane asylum. These facilities almost always had substandard conditions. If conditions in the facility were poor for white patients, conditions were completely inhumane for African-American patients. For instance, one of the first patients admitted to the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum in1829 was a fourteen year-old slave named Jefferson. Jefferson’s name was not recorded in the admission book and he was reportedly housed in the yard. The young slave was admitted as a favor to his owner since the facility did not officially receive blacks.

Fanny Wright brought German mental science into the schools as a way to bring about compliance. The 10 ideas behind this were 1) The removal of active literacy 2) Destroying and changing real history 3) Substituting Social Studies for other studies 4) The dilution of people‚s understanding of economics; politics; and religion 5) The replacement of learning with physical education and counseling 6) Lack of drills 7) The forcing of both willing and unwilling students together 8) Longer school days with shop classes substituting other real learning experiences 9) Shifting from those with the most stake in a child‚s life to those with the least 10) Low levels of hostility against interpretations of meaning and lack of debate or discussion.

Louis Braille invents the raised point alphabet that has come to be known as Braille

Author Frances Wright travels the United States on a paid lecture tour, perhaps the first ever by a woman. She attacks organized religion for the secondary place it assigns women, and advocates the empowerment of women through divorce and birth control.

The Parens Patriae laws or state laws over parents were instituted from the old English King’s law. Parents were on trial with their neighbors, they were being watched, and if not found suitable then children were removed and transferred to the parent substitute.

In England, a husband's absolute power of chastisement is abolished. 

The New England Asylum for the Blind (later the Perkins Institution), the first such private institution, is founded in Boston. Dr. John Fisher charters the first school for the blind in the United States upon his return from France where he observed advancements in the education of people who were blind.


“Narrative of the Treatment Experienced by John Tempest, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister at Law during Fourteen Months Solitary Confinement under a False Imputation of Lunacy” by John Tempest  

The national underground railroad for slaves was started.

Congress wrote it into law that the Indians land no longer belonged to them and forced them onto settlements.

ile:Thomas and Alice, Gallaudet University.jpg

Alice Cogswell (August 31, 1805 – December 30, 1830) was the inspiration to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for the creation of the now American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut. At the age of two, she became ill with "spotted fever" (cerebra-spinal meningitis). This illness took her hearing and later she lost her speech as well. At the time, deafness was viewed as equivalent to a mental illness, and it was believed that the deaf could not be taught. Gallaudet moved into the house next door to hers when she was nine years old. He soon noticed that she wasn't interacting with the other children, and when he asked why, he was informed that she was deaf. Intrigued, he decided to teach her to communicate through pictures and writing letters in the dirt. He and Alice's father, Dr. Mason Cogswell, decided that a formal school would be best for her, but no such school existed in the United States. Gallaudet went to Europe for 15 months, bringing Laurent Clerc back with him upon his return. During the time of his absence, Alice attended a hearing school and somewhat furthered her education, though the situation was not ideal. She was very lively, and enjoyed reading, sewing, and dancing. She was reportedly very good at mimicking others, and was fascinated by the concept of music. Alice Cogswell and six other deaf students entered the school that would become the American School for the Deaf in April 1817. She died at the age of twenty-five on December 30, 1830, exactly thirteen days after the death of her father. On the campus of the present American School for the Deaf at Hartford stands a statue of Gallaudet and Cogswell. Another statue of Gallaudet and Cogswell stands in front of Gallaudet University campus as Gallaudet sit on chair and Alice stood next to him to share their communication of "A" in fingerspelling. The Alice Cogswell statue (American School for the Deaf Founders Memorial), by Frances Laughlin Wadsworth, also represents her as a young girl. Alice Cogswell is known today as a remarkable figure in the history of deaf culture, representing an extraordinary breakthrough in deaf education. She proved to the world that not only are the deaf capable of being taught, they are also capable of the same level of intelligence that the hearing are. Alice stands as a perfect example of Dr. I. King Jordan's famous quote, "Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do, except hear."

Christmas 1830 In Dublin, John Thomas Perveval was "unfortunately deprived of the use of reason". He was admitted to a private asylum (in England) in January 1831


Victor Cousin, French Philosopher, said public schooling would be good economic and social control for the new industrial proletariat, the class of industrial wage earners who, possessing neither capital nor production means, must earn their living by selling their labor.


James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) served as the 20th President of the United States, after completing nine consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He was a strong opponent of slavery. Garfield was one of the founders of the Republican Party and in 1859 was elected to the Ohio legislature. On the outbreak of the American Civil War Garfield joined the Uni

on Army and was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel. He helped recruit the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and commanded a brigade at Shiloh (April, 1862). After fighting at Chickamauga (September, 1863), Garfield was promoted to the rank of major general.

Garfield left the army after he was elected to the 38th Congress and over the next few years became a prominent member of the Radical Republicans. This group favoured the abolition of slavery and believed that freed slaves should have complete equality with white citizens.

Garfield opposed the policies of President Andrew Johnson and argued in Congress that Southern plantations should be taken from their owners and divided among the former slaves. He also attacked Johnson when he attempted to veto the extension of the Freeman's Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts.

In November, 1867, the Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 that Andrew Johnson be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. The majority report contained a series of charges including pardoning traitors, profiting from the illegal disposal of railroads in Tennessee, defying Congress, denying the right to reconstruct the South and attempts to prevent the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Garfield supported Johnson's impeachment but was unhappy that his replacement would be Benjamin Wade. Garfield warned that Wade was "a man of violent passions, extreme opinions and narrow views who was surrounded by the worst and most violent elements in the Republican Party." Despite this objections, Garfield voted for impeachment. However, the 35 to 19 vote, was one short of the required two-thirds majority for conviction.

Garfield remained a member of Congress for seventeen years. During this time her served as chairman of the Banking Committee (1869-71) and in 1880 was asked to organize the campaign of John Sherman, who was attempting to become the Republican Party presidential candidate.

During the campaign Garfield was so impressive that he became one of the candidates and after 36 ballots defeated Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine for the nomination. To preserve party unity, the conservative Chester Arthur, became the vice-presidential candidate.

The Democratic Party nominated Winfield S. Hancock, who like Garfield had been a senior officer during the American Civil War. It was a close election and Garfield won by 4,449,053 votes to 4,442,030.

In his inaugural speech Garfield returned to the issue that had first brought him into politics: "The elevation of the (black) race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both."

Garfield attempted to select a Cabinet that would retain the unity of the Republican Party. However, Roscoe Conking, the leader of the Stalwart group, was unhappy with some of Garfield's choices and refused to serve in his administration.

On 2nd July, 1881, Garfield was waiting for a train in Washington with Robert Lincoln, his Secretary of War, when Charles J. Guiteau, shot him in the back. A supporter of Roscoe Conking, Guiteau, surrendered to the police with the words: "I am a Stalwart. Chester Arthur is now the president of the United States. After a four month struggle James Garfield died on 19th September, 1881 and Chester Arthur became president.

An American slave, Nat Turner, led the most successful slave rebellion in U.S. history. Being taught by his mother to fight slavery, he embraced religion and felt he was called upon by God to help others escape from slavery. Banding together with about 75 others, he killed the White man and family who owned‚ him and went on for two days and nights to kill about 60 White people.  Eventually the state militia ended the revolt, and he was eventually hanged. This rebellion was critical and one of many acts by slaves to demand just treatment in the racially unjust civic society of the U.S. Though the rebellion led to harsher legislation against slaves (education, assembly, movement), it also put an end to the white Southern myth that slaves were content or too passive to revolt.

In England, Mr Hunt MP presented Mary Smith's petition for votes for women to the House of Commons.


Using rooms in his father's house located in downtown Boston, Samuel Gridley Howe, the School's first director, begins teaching a handful of blind students. The Perkins School for the Blind in Boston admits its first two students, the sisters Sophia and Abbey Carter. This is the first time “disabled” students are able to attend school.

The first state mental hospital, Massachusetts Worcester Lunatic Asylum is built.

The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and Other Workingmen condemn child labor.

In England, 1500 women card-setters at Peep Green Yorkshire came out on strike for equal pay.


“An Account of the Imprisonment and Sufferings of Robert Fuller, of Cambridge, Boston” by Robert Fuller.

Enrollment grows at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, and Thomas Perkins, vice president and School trustee, offers his larger home to the School to meet the growing demand for educational services for children who are blind.

In England, Mrs John Sandford published Woman in her Social and Domestic Character, 3rd edition.


Vermont Asylum for the Insane also known as Battleboro Retreat, founded. Anna Hunt Marsh (birth year unknown, died 1834) established the Vermont Asylum of the Insane in 1834. Marsh was born and raised in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. She was the widow of physician Perley Marsh. She is responsible for the creation of the Brattleboro Retreat, originally known as the Vermont Asylum for the Insane. She was the first woman credited with starting a hospital for the mentally ill. She was responsible for selecting the trustees before her death. A bad healing experience leading to the death of a member of her family has been suggested as an impetus to her idea of creating a humane care option. Her vision was a facility patterned on a Quaker concept called moral treatment. She didn't have much to do with Brattleboro until she died, but her influence is enormous. Upon her death, her will instructed heirs to build a mental hospital in Brattleboro. This was founded in 1834 with her $10,000 bequest. The Brattleboro Retreat grew in popularity and had success treating people with a combination of fresh air, exercise, good food, and other treatments for the “insane.” Large porches on the buildings allowed patients to sit and read, relax, and recover. As of 2006, the Brattleboro Retreat, now named Retreat Healthcare, is still in operation serving a wide variety of mental conditions. It is a 1000-acre (4 km²) campus of many large buildings, a working farm, and lots of land to explore.

In England, the New Poor Law assumed all women dependent on men. All illegitimate children to be the sole responsibility of the mother until they reached 16.

A Poor House tax was established that defined the poor on the basis of adults, children, old or non-able bodied adults. The workhouse system was set up in England and Wales under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, although many individual houses existed before this legislation. The Poor Law Reform Act, the first major poor law legislation in England since the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, influences American social welfare with its emphasis on complete assumption by able-bodied people of responsibility for their own economic security. Inmates entered and left as they liked and would receive free food and accommodation. However, workhouse life was made as harsh and degrading as possible so that only the truly destitute would apply. Accounts of the terrible conditions in some workhouses include references to women who would not speak and children who refused to play.

In England, 'M.B.' writes an extraordinary (for its time) piece about women in the Ladies' Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance.

Ernst Heinrich Weber published his perception theory of ‘Just Noticeable DIfference,’ now known as Weber’s Law.


entral Ohio Lunatic Asylum

On March 5, 1835, the General Assembly passed an act to establish The Lunatic Asylum of Ohio and appointed three directors. A 30-acre tract of land north of Broad Street and about one mile east of where the Statehouse would be located was purchased. Construction of the asylum cost $61,000 and the first patient was admitted on November 30, 1838.


The Transcendental movement in literature and philosophy was part of a general turn in U.S. literature to build national civic pride with a distinctly American literary identity, it was viewed as the beginning of an American Renaissance in literature. Transcendentalism was based on a belief in the unity of all creation, the natural goodness of people, and insight over logic for life’s truths. Transcendentalists were influential as leaders in reform movements for anarchy, socialism, and communism; suffrage for women; better conditions for workers; temperance; modifications of dress and diet; the rise of free religion; educational innovation; and other humanitarian causes.

The first restrictive child labor law is enacted in Massachusetts (at the time, two-fifths of all employees in New England factories were aged 7 to 16 years). Massachusetts creates the first state child labor law where children under 15 working in factories have to attend school for at least 3 months per year.

Marc Dax presented case studies in Montpellier that showed that speech disorders were consistently associated with lesions in the left hemisphere. Dax's son published the manuscript in 1865.


The first state institution for blind people is established in Ohio.

Laura Bridgman enrolls in the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and becomes the first documented deafblind person to be educated. Years later, Bridgman teaches Perkins student Anne Sullivan how to communicate with a person who is deafblind.

William IV died, succeeded by niece, Princess Victoria.

In England, Harriet Martineau published Society in America.


Although Tuke, Pinel and others had tried to do away with physical restraint, it remained widespread in the 19th century. At the Lincoln Asylum in England, Robert Gardiner Hill, with the support of Edward Parker Charlesworth, pioneered a mode of treatment that suited "all types" of patients, so that mechanical restraints and coercion could be dispensed with—a situation he finally achieved in 1838. In 1839 Sergeant John Adams and Dr. John Conolly were impressed by the work of Hill, and introduced the method into their Hanwell Asylum, by then the largest in the country. Hill's system was adapted, since Conolly was unable to supervise each attendant as closely as Hill had done. By September 1839, mechanical restraint was no longer required for any patient.

“Scenes in a Mad House” Boston: Samuel N. Dickinson authored by John Barton Derby who spent time as an inmate of McLean Asylum for a brief period.

“A Narrative of the Treatment Experienced by a Gentleman, During a State of Mental Derangement; Designed to Explain the Causes and the Nature of Insanity, and to Expose the Injudicious Conduct Pursued Towards Many Unfortunate Sufferers Under That Calamity.” 2 vols. by John Percavel 1838 and 1840 (republished, with an introduction by Gregory Bateson, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961).

In 1838 Charles DickensOliver Twist, Dickens' second novel, is the first in the English language to centre upon a child protagonist throughout. The book calls attention to various contemporary social evils, including the Poor Law, which required that poor people work in workhouses,[22] child labour and the recruitment of children as criminals. A later character, Jo in Bleak House, is portrayed as a street child, relentlessly pursued by a police inspector. 


Victoria Claflin, the sixth of ten children, was born in Homer, Ohio on September 23, 1838. When Victoria was a child the family was forced to leave Homer after her father, Reuben Claflin, was accused of an insurance fraud. She received very little education and spent most of her childhood with her family's travelling medicine show.

At the age of fifteen Victoria married Canning Woodhull. The following year she gave birth to Byron Woodhull. Over the next few years she earned a living by telling fortunes, selling patent medicines and performing a spiritualist act with her sister, Tennessee Claflin.

Canning Woodhull was an alcoholic and in 1864 she divorced him and two years later married Colonel James Blood. In 1868 Victoria Woodhull moved to New York City where she became friends with millionaire railroad magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. With Vanderbilt's backing, the enterprising sisters went into business as Wall Street's FIRST female stockbrokers. The sisters made a large amount of money and this enabled them to publish their own journal, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly.

Woodhull's journal was used to promote women's suffrage and other radical causes such as the 8 hour work day, graduated income tax, and profit sharing. Woodhull also exposed fraudulent activities that were then rampant in the stock market. Woodhull became the leader of the International Working Men's Association (the First International) in New York City and in 1872 controversially became the FIRST person to publish The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

In May 1872 Victoria Woodhull was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party. (The FIRST female Presidentoal nominee.) Although laws prohibited women from voting, there was nothing stopping women from running for office. Woodhull suggested that Frederick Douglass should become her running partner but he declined the offer.

During the campaign Woodhull called for the "reform of political and social abuses; the emancipation of labor, and the enfranchisement of women". Woodhull also argued in favour of improved civil rights and the abolition of capital punishment. These policies gained her the support of socialists, trade unionists and women suffragists. However, conservative leaders of the American Woman Suffrage Association, such as Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were shocked by some of her more extreme ideas and supported Horace Greeley in the election.

Friends of President Ulysses Grant decided to attack Victoria Woodhull's character and she was accused of having affairs with married men. It was also alleged that Victoria's previous husband was an alcoholic and her sister, Utica Claflin, took drugs. Woodhull became convinced that Henry Ward Beecher was behind these stories and decided to fight back. She now published a story in the Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly that Beecher was having an affair with a married woman.

Woodhull was arrested and charged under the Comstock Act for sending obscene literature through the mail and was in prison on election day. (Woodhull's name did not appear on the ballot because she was one year short of the Constitutionally mandated age of thirty-five.) Over the next seven months Woodhull was arrested eight times and had to endure several trials for obscenity and libel. She was eventually acquitted of all charges but the legal bills forced her into bankruptcy.

In 1878 Woodhull moved to England. She continued to campaign for women's rights and in 1895 she established the Humanitarian newspaper.

Victoria Woodhull died on 9th June, 1927.


Sarah Grimké publishes "Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women." She and her sister Angelina will be active in both the suffrage and the abolitionist movements.

In England, Harriet Martineau published How to Observe; Morals and Manners.

Sarah Ellis published The Women of England, Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits.

In England, R. Mence Esq. published The Mutual Rights of Husband and Wife, with a Draft of a Bill to replace that of Mr Sergt. Talfourd.


In England, under the Custody of Infants Act, custody of children under 7 years old was assigned to mothers. Child Custody Act enabled a mother to be given custody of children under seven.

In England, Sarah Lewis published Women's Mission.

Sixty-five students are enrolled at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, and a still larger facility is needed. Thomas Perkins sells his house and donates the proceeds in order to move the School to a former hotel in South Boston. In honor of his generosity, the School is named for Perkins.


The Washingtonians, an organization with the central tenant that 'social camaraderie was sufficient to sustain sobriety,' enlist recovering alcoholics as missionaries to individuals with drinking disorders, thus pioneering the notion of service as a tool of self-help.

Dorothea Dix crusades for asylum reform.

Day nurseries began in Boston for low-income working wives and widows of merchant seamen. Day care "was founded as a social service to alleviate the child care problems of parents who had to work, and to prevent young children from suicidal acts from thinking of being unloved ."


In 1840 there were only eight asylums for the insane in the U.S. Dorothea Dix investigates the care provided to insane people. She ultimately is responsible for establishing 41 state hospitals and the federal St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC. Dorothea Dix’s crusading led to establishment or enlargement of 32 mental hospitals, and transfer of the mentally ill from poorhouses and jails. Dorothea Dix begins her work on behalf of people with disabilities incarcerated in jails and poorhouses. A Boston schoolteacher, Dorothea Dix (1802-1887), made humane care a public and a political concern in the United States. In 1841, Dix visited a local prison to teach Sunday school and was shocked at the conditions for the inmates. She subsequently became very interested in prison conditions and later expanded her crusade to include the poor and mentally ill people all over the country. She spoke to many state legislatures about the horrible sights (people were being housed in county jails, private homes and the basements of public buildings) she had witnessed at the prisons and called for reform. From 1841 to 1881, Dix fought for new laws and greater government funding to improve the treatment of people with mental disorders and personally helped establish 32 state hospitals that were to offer moral treatment. In the mid-nineteenth century, Dorothea Lynde Dix was influential in changing conditions in institutions in New England. In 1881, at 40th anniversary of the Medico-Psychological Association at University College, Daniel Tuke, the president, paid respect to her “who has a claim to the gratitude of mankind for having consecrated the best years of her life to the fearless advocacy of the cause of the insane.”

In Mettray, north of the city of Tours, France a private reformatory, the Mettray Penal Colony, without walls, was opened by penal reformer Frédéric-Auguste Demetz in 1840 for the rehabilitation of young males aged between 6 and 21. At that time children and teenagers were routinely imprisoned with adults. Boys who were mostly deprived, disadvantaged or adandoned children, many of whom had committed only Summary offences or petty crime, were housed. Their heads were shaved, they wore uniforms, and up to age 12 spent most of the day studying arithmetic, writing and reading. Older boys had one hour of classes, with the rest of the day spent working. Reformatory Schools were modelled on Mettray, and the Borstal system, established in 1905, separated adolescents from adult prisoners. In the twentieth century Mettray became the focus for Michel Foucault because of its various systems and expressions of power and led Foucault to suggest that Mettray began the descent into modern penal theories and their inherent power structures.

The first attempt to measure the extent of mental illness and mental retardation in the United States occurred with the U.S. Census of 1840. The census included the category ‘insane and idiotic.’ The census used the single category of "idiocy/insanity." The 1840 census revealed dramatically increased rates of insanity among free blacks. African-American physician James McCune Smith challenged the findings of the 1840 census, which was frequently used by pro-slavery writers to confirm that enslavement was beneficial to slaves. Dr. Smith wrote, “Freedom has not made us ‘mad.’ It has strengthened our minds by throwing us upon our own resources.” Former slaves were also incarcerated because they played a role in providing cheap labor to staff psychiatric hospitals. The Georgia Lunatic Asylum, which would come to be known as the largest lunatic asylum in the world, was operated exclusively by slave labor from 1841–1847, when the first white attendants were hired. The slave attendants and help-patients were a critical adjunct to hospital staff.

Mercein vs. People said the moment a child is born it (owes allegiance to the government) of the country of its birth and is entitled to the protection of that government and the powers of parents pass from the parents to the government of the United States. 

Orester Brownson said, “A system of education may as well be a religion established by law.”

Labor yards were beginning to be established for the poor. 

Margaret Fuller was an acclaimed United States writer who pushed for civic awareness in women’s rights and social reform. Fuller wrote influential book reviews and reports on social issues such as the treatment of women prisoners and the insane. Fuller's "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" is the earliest and most American exploration of women's role in society.  Overall, she emphasized that women should learn “self-dependence” because too often they are taught to depend on others (particularly men in marriage) for their well-being.

In England, Harriet Martineau published Women's Rights and Duties, considered with Relation to their Influence on Society and on her Condition.(Anon.)

In England, Judge upholds a man's right to lock up his wife and beat her 'in moderation'.

In England, Sydney Owenson Morgan published Woman and her Master, 2 volumes.

World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London. Accredited female delegates from the USA excluded from taking part on grounds of their sex. Abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attend, but they are barred from participating in the meeting. This snub leads them to decide to hold a women's rights convention when they return to America.


James Esdaile, resident in Calcutta, uses hypnosis for anesthesia in operations performed on his patients.


 orothea Dix

Dorothea Dix, a schoolteacher forced to retire due to her bouts of tuberculousis, begins her work on behalf of people with disabilities incarcerated in jails and poorhouses. She has all of them labeled as mentally ill rather than troubled or troublemakers. A Boston schoolteacher, Dorothea Dix (1802-1887), made humane care a public and a political concern in the United States. In 1841 Dix visited a local prison to teach Sunday school and was shocked at the conditions for the inmates. She subsequently became very interested in prison conditions and later expanded her crusade to include the poor and mentally ill people all over the country. She spoke to many state legislatures about the horrible sights (people were being housed in county jails, private homes and the basements of public buildings) she had witnessed at the prisons and called for reform. Dix fought for new laws and greater government funding to improve the treatment of people with mental disorders from 1841 until 1881, and personally helped establish 32 state hospitals that were to offer moral treatment. In the mid-nineteenth century Dorothea Lynde Dix was influential in changing conditions in institutions in New England, and in 1881 at 40th anniversary of the Medico-Psychological Association at University College, Daniel Tuke, the president, paid respect to her 'who has a claim to the gratitude of mankind for having consecrated the best years of her life to the fearless advocacy of the cause of the insane'. U.S. reformer Dorothea Dix observes that mentally ill people in Massachusetts, both men and women and all ages, are incarcerated with criminals and left unclothed and in darkness and without heat or bathrooms. Many are chained and beaten. Over the next 40 years, Dix will lobby to establish 32 state hospitals for the mentally ill. On a tour of Europe in 1854­-56, she convinces Pope Pius IX to examine how cruelly the mentally ill are treated.

“The Madhouse System” by Richard Paternoster.  

The American Annals of the Deaf begins publication at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.

What became the Royal College of Psychiatrists, then known as the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane, was founded in England, receiving a royal charter in 1926.

In England, Governesses' Benevolent Institution founded.

In England, Mother Marian Rebecca Hughes of Oxford became the first woman to take the religious vows in the Church of England since the Reformation.

In England, Lady Rolle became the first woman governor of Bridewell and Bethlem Royal Hospitals.

In England, Mrs John Mylne published Woman and Her Social Position in the Westminster Gazette.


“A Sketch of the Life of Elizabeth T. Stone, and of Her Persecution, with an Appendix of Her Treatment and Sufferings While in the Charleston McLean Asylum Where She was Confined Under the Pretence of Insanity.” Boston: Author; Elizabeth Stone.

“Scene in a Private Mad-House.” Asylum Journal. 1(1): 1 by Anonymous

Charles Dickens visits the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and enthusiastically praises Howe's work with Laura Bridgman in his book, American Notes. Years later, Kate Adams Keller reads Dickens' book and realizes there is hope that her six-year-old daughter, Helen - deafblind since age 19 months, can be educated.

Massachusetts limits children to working 10 hours per day. Several states follow suit, but do not consistently enforce their laws.

Robert Hartley and associates organize the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, which later merges with the Charity Organization Society of New York to form the present Community Service Society.

In England, Ashley's Mines and Collieries Act. Women and children were excluded from the mines, as a result within two years 1,000 Staffordshire women had lost their jobs.

In England, Louis Aime-Martin published The Education of Mothers of Families; or, The Civilisation of the Human Race by Women.

In England, The Rev. Benjamin Parsons published The Mental and Moral Dignity of Woman.


“Remarks by Elizabeth T. Stone, upon the Statements Made by H.B. Skinner, in the Pulpit of the Hamilton Chapel, on Sunday Afternoon, 18th of June 1843, in Reference to What She Had Stated Concerning His Being Chaplain in the Charlestown McLean Asylum: and Also a Further Relation on Her Suffering While Confined in That Place for 16 months and 20 days.”  Boston: Author; Elizabeth Stone.

Dorothea Dix, a leader in the "Moral Treatment" Movement, convinces the Massachusetts legislature to expand Worcester Lunatic Asylum. She is also responsible for building several other state mental hospitals that later become public disgraces.

There were approximately 24 hospitals–totaling only 2,561 beds–available for treating mental illness in the United States.

James Braid, Scottish surgeon begins use of hypnotic trance as a form of anesthesia. Coined the term hypnosis, derived from the Greek hypnos, meaning sleep.

Horace Mann helped to clean the streets of beggars, vagrants, and gypsies through his efforts at journalism.

A call for popular education came from the authorities of industry, clergy professionals, and scientists in order to further this goal.

Oregon territorial government adopts laws for care of the mentally ill.

In England, Association for the Aid of Milliners and Dressmakers founded.

In England, Marion Reid published (as Mrs Hugo Reid) A Plea for Woman, being a Vindication of the Importance and Extent of her Natural Sphere of Action.


Founding of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). At a meeting in 1844 in Philadelphia, 13 superintendents and organizers of insane asylums and hospitals formed the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII). The group included Thomas Kirkbride, creator of the asylum model which was used throughout the United States. At the meeting they passed the first proposition of the new organization: "It is the unanimous sense of this convention that the attempt to abandon entirely the use of all means of personal restraint is not sanctioned by the true interests of the insane." The name of the organization was changed in 1892 to The American Medico-Psychological Association to allow assistant physicians working in mental hospitals to become members. In 1921, the name was changed to the present American Psychiatric Association. The APA emblem, dating to 1890, became more officially adopted from that year. It was a round medallion with a purported facial likeness of Benjamin Rush and 13 stars over his head to represent the 13 founders of the organization. The outer ring contains the words "American Psychiatric Association 1844,” Rush's name and an M.D. The Association was Incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1927. The Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane included among its tenets:

• Insanity is a disease to which everyone is liable.

• Properly and promptly treated, it is about as curable as most other serious diseases.

• In the majority of cases it is better and more successfully treated in well-organized institutions than at home.

• Overcrowding is an evil of serious magnitude.

• The insane should never be kept in penal institutions.


June 12, 1844 Pageant: John Clare's The Nightingale


Drapery clerk George Williams organizes the first Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in London.

In England, Factory Act (women and children).

In England, Ann Richelieu Lamb published Can Woman Regenerate Society?


The origin of the notion that the state's parens patriae power, the power to protect the patient's own safety or that of others, justifies involuntary commitment came in the Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court's decision in In re Josiah Oakes, 8 Law Rep. 123 (1845), on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of an elderly Massachusetts resident who was committed to a private psychiatric facility on his parent's application after he married a young woman of "unsavory character" a few days after his wife's death. This is the case most cited by modern courts and writers as the foundation for involuntary treatment.

Alleged Lunatics' Friends Society organized by former mental patients in England.  This organization is seen as the forerunner of present day advocacy groups.  The group lasted until 1863. July 1, 1845, John Thomas Perceval’s petition presented to the House of Commons. July 7, 1845 the Alleged Lunatics Friend Society was formed. (Gault, H. 2010, p.190)

The “Lunacy Act” is passed concerning running good hospitals. The Lunacy Act 1845 and the County Asylums Act 1845 were passed in England and Wales, leading to the setting up of the Lunacy Commission.


Earlier in the year, 5,000 women cotton mill workers in and around Pittsburgh go on strike for a 10-hour day and an end to child labor. Months into the strike, hundreds marched on the Blackstock Mill, one of the largest in the area. The women broke down the factory's gates and forcibly expelled the scabs, while the men who accompanied them kept the police at bay.

Sweden passes an Inheritance Law that gives women and men equal inheritance rights. 

In England, Margaret Fuller published Woman in the Nineteenth Century.


The Great Irish Famines mark the destruction of potato crops and people become paupers by the droves and subsequently fled to America seeking opportunity.


John Augustus, a shoemaker in Boston, gives up his work as a shoemaker to devote time to taking people on probation from the courts; from 1841 to 1858, Augustus took 1,152 men and 794 women on probation.

“The Lily of the West: On Human Nature, Education, the Mind, Insanity, with Ten Letters as a Sequel to the Alphabet; the Conquest of Man, Early Days; a Farewell to My Native Home, the Song of the Chieftain's Daughter, Tree of Liberty, and the Beauties of Nature and Art,” by G. Grimes, an Inmate of the Lunatic Asylum of Tennessee. Nashville. Grimes, Green.

“A Secret Worth Knowing: A Treatise on the Most Important Secret in the World: Simply to say, Insanity, by G. Grimes, an Inmate of the Lunatic Asylum of Tennessee.” Nashville: Nashville Union, Grimes, Green.

American Annals of the Deaf began publication at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford.

In England, Anna Jameson published 'Woman's Mission' and 'Woman's Position ' On the Relative Social Position of Mothers and Governesses.

In England, Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) published translation of Strauss's Das Leben Jesu (Life of Jesus).

In England, Eliza Lynn Linton, an anti-feminist (!) became the first salaried woman journalist in Britain, working for the Morning Chronicle.


“Thirty-Two Years of the Life of an Adventurer” New York: by Drake, John H.

“A Secret Worth Knowing: A Treatise on Insanity, the Only Work of the Kind in the United States or, Perhaps in the Known World: Founded on General Observation and Truth,” by G. Grimes, an Inmate of the Lunatic Asylum of Tennessee. New York: W. H. Graham. Grimes, Green.   

“Best interest of the Child” test, which is not suppose to be seen as unregulated, but governed as far as the case will admit, by fixed rules and principles.

In England, the Juvenile Offenders Act allowed children under the age of fourteen to be tried summarily before two magistrates, speeding up the process of trial for children, and removing it from the publicity of the higher courts. The age limit was raised to sixteen in 1850.

In England, Ann Knight, an elderly Quaker, published the first leaflet that advocated votes for women .

In England, (also in 1850) Factory Acts (women and children restricted to 10 1/2 hour day).

In England, Chloroform first used in childbirth.


The first residential institution for people with mental retardation is founded by Samuel Gridley Howe at the Perkins Institution in Boston. During the next century, hundreds of thousands of developmentally disabled children and adults will be institutionalized, many for their entire lives. Samuel Gridley Howe told the Massachusetts legislature, “There are at least a thousand persons of this class who not only contribute nothing to the common stock, but who are ravenous consumers, who are idle and often mischievous, and who are dead weight upon the prosperity of the state.”

After much campaigning by American Dorothea Dix, New Jersey built a humane hospital for the insane. Over 30 states followed its lead.

Pennsylvania establishes the first minimum wage law in the United States.


The Communist Manifesto, published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, influences worker demands in the United States for labor and social welfare reforms.

The Adoption Act passed and “Psychological Parenthood” was accepted. 

Russia fell to the socialist revolution or communism.

“Illustrations of Insanity Furnished by the Letters and Writings of the Insane.” American Journal of Insanity.  4: 290-308 by Anonymous.

Phineas Gage, a Vermont railwayman, was an affable person until an incident in 1848. While blasting rock, an iron bar embedded itself in the front part of Phineas Gage's brain. Phineas Gage suffered brain damage when an iron pole pierces his brain. His personality was changed but his intellect remained intact suggesting that an area of the brain plays a role in personality. He survived the operation to remove it, though his personality changed radically. He became irreverent, profane, rude and impatient, all contrary to his nature before the accident. The 25 year old was blasting the ground prior to laying train tracks. This technique involved putting explosive powder with a fuse into a hole, covering the hole with sand and lighting the fuse. Unfortunately, Gage accidentally tamped the powder into the hole before sand was poured in. When the powder was struck with the tamping rod, it ignited. The blast drove the rod through Gage’s head. The inch-thick shaft entered through his left cheekbone and left eye and exited through his skull. Gage survived the accident and within 2 months he could walk, talk and was generally aware of his surroundings. However, his once affable personality had been replaced by less desirable qualities and characteristics such as lying, excessive use of abusive language and non-dependability. He was no longer recognised as the same man: ‘The equilibrium … between his intellectual faculties and animal propensities seems to have been destroyed’, according to Harlow, a physician from Boston, 1868. Gage eventually died from epilepsy 13 years after the incident and his skull was donated to medical research. Upon examination, it was found that the change in personality was a result of severe damage to the frontal lobes of the brain. Early theories concerning Gage’s sudden change in behaviour were not readily accepted. There was scepticism at the time about whether the brain could govern human behaviour. More recently, neurologists have returned to the case to ascertain the full extent of the damage to his brain. It appears that the frontal lobes necessary for language and motor function were unaffected whilst the underside of the frontal lobes were heavily damaged, causing the anti-social behaviour. This phenomenon has also been detected in present day cases of people suffering from tumours, accidents or neurosurgery. The case of Phineas Gage was the first to be publicised that demonstrated a biological basis for behaviour. It therefore became an early explanation for abnormal behaviour and mental illness - a seminal case in the detection and causes of medical illness.

In England, the Alleged Lunatics' Friend Society campaigned for sweeping reforms to the asylum system and abuses of the moral treatment approach. In the United States,

Three hundred people attend the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Among the attendees are Amelia Bloomer, Charlotte Woodward, and Frederick Douglas. Lucretia Mott's husband James presides. Stanton authors the Declaration of Sentiments, which sets the agenda for decades of women's activism. A larger meeting follows in Rochester. Lucretia Mott (January 3, 1793-November 11, 1880) was an American Quaker abolitionist, women’s rights activist and social reformer. She helped organize women’s abolitionist societies, since anti-slavery organizations would not admit women as members. In 1840, she attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. From their conversations, sparked the idea of creating a mass meeting to address women’s rights. In 1848, they called the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York with the help of her sister, Martha Coffin Wright, and others. She devoted her life advocating for equal economic opportunity, school and prison reform and supported women’s equal political status, including sufferage.

In England, First college for women founded by Rev. F.D. Maurice. Queen's College , Harley Street, London, established for governesses.

In England, Joseph Hume MP moved a resolution in parliament to give votes to women .


“Five Months in the New York State Lunatic Asylum, by an Inmate.” Buffalo: L. Danforth by Anonymous

British psychiatrist John Charles Bucknill used electrical stimulation of the skin and potassium oxide to treat asylum patients with melancholic depression. Electrical stimulation became widespread during the late nineteenth century, but safety concerns reduced its use.

 ile:Emily Blackwell.jpg

On 23 January 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. Emily Blackwell (October 8, 1826 – September 7, 1910), born in Bristol, England, was the second woman to earn a medical degree at what is now Case Western Reserve University, and the third openly identified woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. Inspired by the example of her older sister, Elizabeth, Emily studied medicine, earning her degree in 1854. In 1857 the Blackwell sisters and Marie Zakrzewska established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. In 1832 the family emigrated to the US, and in 1837 settled near Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1857 the Blackwell sisters and Marie Zakrzewska established the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. From the beginning Emily took responsibility for management of the infirmary and in large part for the raising of funds. For the next forty years Emily managed the infirmary, overseeing surgery, nursing, and bookkeeping. Emily traveled to Albany to convince the legislature to provide the hospital with funds that would ensure long-term financial stability. She transformed an institution housed in a rented, sixteen-room house into a fully-fledged hospital. By 1874 the infirmary served over 7,000 patients annually. During the American Civil War Blackwell helped organize the Women's Central Association of Relief, which selected and trained nurses for service in the war. Emily and Elizabeth Blackwell and Mary Livermore also played an important role in the development of the United States Sanitary Commission. After the war, in 1868 the Blackwell sisters established the Women's Medical College in New York City. Emily became professor of obstetrics and, in 1869, when Elizabeth moved to London to help form the London School of Medicine for Women, became dean of the college. In 1876 it became a three-year institution, and in 1893 it became a four-year college, ahead of much of the profession. By 1899 the college had trained 364 women doctors. From 1883, Blackwell lived with her partner Elizabeth Cushier, who also served as a doctor at the infirmary. Blackwell and Cushier retired at the turn of the century. After traveling abroad for a year and a half, they spent the next winters at their home in Montclair, New Jersey and summers in Maine. Blackwell died on September 7, 1910 in York Cliffs, Maine, a few months after her sister Elizabeth's death in England.

“Mr. Dyce Sombre's Refutation of the Charge of Lunacy Brought Against Him in the Court of Chancer.” Paris by Dvee Sombre.   

In England, Bedford College for Women founded.


The first school for "idiotic and feebleminded" youths is incorporated in Massachusetts.

“The Ohio Lunatic Asylum.” The Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology. 3:  456-90, by Anonymous.

The Massachusetts legislature grants property rights to women.

The 1850 census, the first reliable enumeration of mentally ill persons in the United States, counted 4,730 insane persons in the total population of 23,261,000

In the 1850s, Superintendent of Eastern State Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, John Minson Galt, II suggested a day-patient approach similar to the town of Geel (present-day Germany), where patients went into town and interacted with the community during the day and returned to the hospital at night to sleep. The Court of Directors rejected this proposal. The idea was a century ahead of its time and re-emerged as deinstitutionalization in the 1900s. However, Dr. Galt did carry out an experiment with deinstitutionalization in Williamsburg that lasted for a decade. Convalescing patients who behaved well and had good self-control (approximately half of the 280 patients at the time), had the freedom of the town at all times during the day. The townspeople were also encouraged to visit and socialize with patients still confined to the hospital grounds. Many of these changes were a part of a new era called "moral management," brought about due to a change in social perception of mental illness.

The first mandated reform schools, taught “respect for authority, self-control, and discipline.” They spoke of reform schools in phrases such as, “Here is real home.” They took the kids to reform schools and then adopted them out before parents could get them back.

In 1800 there were only eight institutions for abused and neglected children in the U.S. By 1850, there are ninety institutions for abused and neglected children in the U.S.

The number of children aged 15 years and younger in Irish Workhouses reaches its historic high, at 115,639.

In England, Emily Shirreff and Maria G. Grey published Thoughts on Self-Culture: Addressed to Women.

In England, S. Margaret Fuller published Woman in the Nineteenth Century.

In England, North London Collegiate School founded by Frances Buss.


In his article, “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race,” Dr. Samuel Cartwright, a prominent Louisiana physician and one of the leading authorities in his time on the medical care of Negroes, identified two mental disorders peculiar to slaves. Drapetomia, or the disease causing Negroes to run away, was noted as a condition, “unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers.” Dr. Cartwright observed, “The cause in most cases, that induces the Negro to run away from service, is such a disease of the mind as in any other species of alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule.”  Dr. Cartwright was so helpful as to identify preventive measures for dealing with potential cases of drapetomania. Slaves showing incipient drapetomania, reflected in sulky and dissatisfied behavior should be whipped —- strictly as a therapeutic early intervention. Planter and overseers were encouraged to utilize whipping as the primary intervention once the disease had progressed to the stage of actually running away. Overall, Cartwright suggested that Negroes should be kept in a submissive state and treated like children, with “care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away.”  Dr. Cartwright also diagnosed Dysaethesia Aethiopica, or “hebetude of the mind and obtuse sensibility of the body -— a disease peculiar to Negroes called by overseers —- Rascality.” Dysaethesia Aethiopica differed from other species of mental disease since physical signs and lesions accompanied it. The ever-resourceful Dr.Cartwright determined that whipping could also cure this disorder. Of course, one wonders if the whipping were not the cause of the “lesions” that confirmed the diagnosis. Not surprisingly, Dr. Cartwright was a leading thinker in the pro-slavery movement. Dr.Cartwright, in his article “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race,” chided his anti-slavery colleagues by noting, “The northern physicians and people have noticed the symptoms, but not the disease from which they spring. They ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind without considering that those who have never been in slavery, or their fathers before them, are the most afflicted, and the latest from the slave-holding south the least. The disease is the natural offspring of Negro liberty —- the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks.”Dysaethesia Aethiopica was a mental illness described by Dr. Cartwright that proposed a theory for the cause of laziness among slaves. Today, dysaesthesia aethiopica is considered an example of pseudoscience and part of the edifice of scientific racism.


Friern Hospital (formerly Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum) was a psychiatric hospital in Colney Hatch in what is now the London Borough of Barnet. The hospital was built as the Second Middlesex County Asylum and was in operation from 1851 to 1993. At the time of construction, the asylum had 1250 beds and was the largest and most modern asylum in Europe. At its height Colney Hatch was home to 3500 mental patients and had the longest corridor in Britain (It would take a visitor more than two hours to walk the wards). For much of the 20th century, its name was synonymous among Londoners with any mental institution.

Sojourner Truth delivers her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech at a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio.


Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?


A very moving piece from abolitionist, women's rights proponent, and former slave Sojourner Truth that was originally delivered in 1851. Yep, before the Civil War, before the right to vote for anybody but white men ... THAT 1851.

Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.


The YMCA is founded in North America (Montreal).

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died on September 10.

Traveler's Aid (now Traveler's Aid International) is founded by Bryan Mullanphy in St. Louis, Missouri.

In Ohio’s Constitution of 1851, there is a section stating, Institutions for the benefit of the insane, blind, deaf and dumb shall always be fostered and supported by the state.

The second National Woman's Rights Convention is held in Worcester, Massachusetts; celebrities new to the list of endorsers include educator Horace Mann, New York Tribune columnist Elizabeth Oakes Smith,
and Reverend Harry Ward Beecher, one of the nation's most popular preachers. Lucretia Mott presides. Westminster Review publishes John Stuart Mill's article, "On the Enfranchisement of Women." Mill later admits that the piece is the work of his companion, Harriet Hardy Taylor.

“Autobiography of the Rev. William Walford.” London by William Walford.  

“Astounding Disclosures! Three Years in a Mad House, by a Victim. A True Account of the Barbarous, Inhuman and Cruel Treatment of Isaac H. Hunt, in the Maine Insane Hospital, in the Years 1844, '45, '46 and '47, by Drs. Isaac Ray, James Bates, and Their Assistants and Attendants.” Skowhegan: The Author. Hunt, Isaac H.

“The Opal Volume 1.”  New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.” The Opal (1851–1860) was a ten volume Journal produced by patients of Utica State Lunatic Asylum in New York, which has been viewed in part as an early liberation movement.

Massachusetts passed the first modern adoption law, recognizing adoption as a social and legal operation based on child welfare rather than adult interests. The Adoption of Children Act was an important turning point that directed judges to ensure that adoption decrees were “fit and proper.”  How this determination was to be made was left entirely to judicial discretion. 

Nathanial Hawthorne’s book, "The Scarlet Letter," came out. This was a moral book about an unwed mother trying to raise her child, cast out of society to live in the woods as punishment for her sins of moral impropriety; the surprise was the child’s father was the priest.

In England, Mrs J.S. Mill (nee Harriet Taylor) published The Enfranchisement of Women in the Westminster Review.

In England, Women's Suffrage Petition presented to the House of Lords.


“Startling Facts from the Census,” was published in the American Journal of Insanity.  It argued that slavery kept blacks well, because there was a higher incidence of insanity in Blacks in the North than the South.

“Insanity Among the Colored Population of the Free States” by Dr. Jarvis.  Jarvis writes to “disabuse any readers mind” of the information released in “startling facts from the census”.  Jarvis' investigation into the Census actually created what is now called the “modern census” as he found the statistics were largely unreliable.  

ayton State Hospitalthens State Hospital
Dayton State Hospital                                         Athens State Hospital

leveland State Hospitalolumbus
Cleveland State Hospital                         Columbus State Hospital

In 1852, the Ohio legislature approved the expansion of the Columbus Asylum. State hospitals were established in Cleveland and Dayton in 1855 and in Athens in 1874. Many psychiatric hospitals built during this period in Ohio and other states followed the Kirkbride architectural style. Thomas S. Kirkbride, one of the founders of the American Psychiatric Association, was an authority on construction, organization and general arrangement of psychiatric hospitals. He felt that the most economical type of construction involved a center hall for offices, employee living areas, a church and recreation facilities. Off both sides of the center were a series of wings that stepped back progressively. New patients were placed on wards farthest from the center. As their conditions improved, patients were moved closer to the center hall. Hence, the term, back ward, which referred to areas where patients with the most intractable illnesses lived.

French physician Bénédict Augustin Morel published Traite des Maladies Mentales (2 vols.); the 2nd ed. (1860) coined the term "dementia praecox" (demence precoce) for patients suffering from "stupor" (melancholia). In 1857 he published Traité des Dégénérescences, promoting an understanding of mental illness based upon the theory of Degeneration, which became one of the most influential concepts in psychiatry for the rest of the century.

“A Letter from a Patient.” The Opal – A monthly Periodical of the State Lunatic Asylum, Devoted to Usefulness.  2: 245-246. Anonymous. “The Opal Volume 2.”  New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

“Astounding Disclosures! Three Years in a Mad House, by a Victim. Contains Also: A Short Account of Miss Elizabeth T. Stone in the McLean Asylum at Somerville, Mass. and a Short Account of the Burning of the Maine Asylum, Dec. 4th, 1850.” Skowhegan: The Author: Hunt, Isaac H.

The first forced public education began in Massachusetts

Newspaper editor Clara Howard Nichols addresses the Vermont Senate on the topic of women's property rights, a major issue for the suffragists.

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published.

In England, Anna Jameson published Legends of the Madonna, as presented in the fine arts.

In England, Florence Nightingale wrote the book Cassandra that highlights the problems of womens entitlement to education - she decided not to publish the book.

In England, G.H. Lewes published The Lady Novelists.

In England, Publication of Man's Duties to Woman. (Anon.)

In England, Judge rules that a man may not force his wife to live with him.


The Children's Aid Society of New York, the first child placement agency separate from an institutional program, is founded by the Reverend Charles Loring Brace.

hoto: On April 20, 1853 Harriet Tubman began her work on the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 enslaved Africans to freedom. She never lost a single passenger. #ForHarriet

On April 20, 1853 Harriet Tubman began her work on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 enslaved Africans to freedom. She never lost a single passenger. "I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."

Invention of the hypodermic syringe; its use to inject morphine to reduce pain rapidly became widespread during the Civil War.  

Dorothea Dix is credited for the creation of the first public mental hospital in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.  

“Passages from the History of a Wasted Life.” Boston: Benj. B. Mussey. Middle-Aged Man [pseud.].

“The Opal Volume 3.”  New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

Charles Loring Brace founded the Children's Aid Society to take in children living on the streets.’

On the occasion of the World's Fair in New York City, suffragists hold a meeting in the Broadway Tabernacle. It will go down in history as "The Mob Convention," marred by "hissing, yelling, stamping, and all manner of unseemly interruptions."

The World's Temperance Convention is held, also in New York City. Women delegates, including Rev. Antoinette Brown and Susan B. Anthony, are not allowed to speak.

In England, Margaretta Grey published A Lady Must Not Work.

In England, Aggravated Assaults Act passed, to increase penalties for wife beating.

In England, Queen Victoria given chloroform during childbirth.

In England, J.J.S. Wharton M.A. published An Expostion of the Laws relating to the Women of England, showing their Rights, Remedies and Responsibilities in every position in life.


Dorthea Dix's (born April 4, 1802) diligent work in the 1840's for the humane treatment of people identified as “mentally ill,” convinces many states to construct special institutions for the “mentally ill.” “Man is not made better by being degraded.” A bill that authorized grants of public land to establish hospitals for insane people and that was initiated by Dorothea Dix and passed unanimously by Congress is vetoed by President Franklin Pierce. The rationale for the veto is that the general welfare clause in the U.S. Constitution reserves such care to the states, not to the federal government, an interpretation that establishes federal welfare policy until the Social Security Act of 1935. Legislation was passed at the federal level to provide aid to the states for these mental institutions.  President Franklin Pierce felt that it was the states responsibility to ensure the social welfare, not the federal government.  He vetoed the Indigent Insane Bill. This was one example of the controversy of who has responsibility, state or federal government. This bill would have provided a grant of land for “the relief and support of indigent, curable and incurable insane.” Its passage by Congress was the culmination of more than six years of intense work by Dix and her allies in trying to provide asylums that would emphasize “moral treatment” approaches to mental illness. President Pierce, in his veto message, said, “If Congress has the power to make provisions for the indigent insane, the whole field of public beneficence is thrown open to the care and culture of the federal government. I readily acknowledge the duty incumbent on us all to provide for those who, in the mysterious order of providence, are subject to want and to disease of body or mind, but I cannot find any authority in the Constitution that makes the federal government the great almoner of public charity throughout the United States.”

“A Chapter from Real Life. By a Recovered Patient.” The Opal – A monthly Periodical of the State Lunatic Asylum, Devoted to Usefulness. 4: 48-50. Anonymous. “The Opal Volume 4.”  New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

“Letters of a Lunatic: A Brief Exposition of My University Life During the Years 1853-1854.” New York: The Author. Adler, George J.

The New England Gallaudet Association of the Deaf is founded in Montpelier, Vermont.

Tewksbury State Hospital and Infirmary was established in 1854 on a 250 acre farm, as one of three state almshouses needed to help care for the unprecedented influx of immigrants into Massachusetts at that time. The almshouses were the Commonwealth's first venture into caring for the poor, a duty which had previously been carried out by the cities and towns. Opened on May 1, 1854 with a capacity for 500, the almshouse population grew to 668 by the end of the first week, and to over 800 by May 20th. By December 2, 1854, 2,193 "paupers" had been admitted. Nearly 90% of these listed European countries as their birthplace. The almshouse reported having 14 employees at that time, and was spending 94.5 cents per week per resident. The most famous patient in the almshouse during the 19th century was Anne Sullivan, who later became the tutor and companion of Helen Keller. Anne Sullivan spent most of her early life at the almshouse (her alcoholic father left her and her brother there) before being transferred to the Perkins School for the Blind, now located in Watertown, Massachusetts where she was valedictorian of her class. Her brother died due to a hip problem at a young age, while in the almshouse. At age 20 Sullivan left the school in Watertown to go to Helen Keller's home in Alabama. One of the buildings on today's Tewksbury Hospital Campus is named for Ms. Sullivan. Reflecting its changing mission, the Tewksbury Almshouse became Tewksbury State Hospital in 1900, the Massachusetts State Infirmary in 1909, and Tewksbury State Hospital and Infirmary in 1938. Over the years, facilities were added for treating tuberculosis and other contagious diseases such as smallpox, venereal diseases and typhoid fever. Meanwhile it continued to serve as a last resort for many patients in need of shelter and supervised care, especially during the late 1920s and 1930s.

The Massachusetts legislature grants property rights to women.

The first day nursery in the United States opens in New York City

In 1854 Charles Loring Brace led the Children's Aid Society to start the Orphan Train with stops across the West, where they were adopted and often given work.

In Reformatory Schools in England, Mary Carpenter's research and lobbying contributed to the Youthful Offenders Act 1854 and the Reformatory Schools (Scotland) Act 1854. These enabled voluntary schools to be certified as efficient by the Inspector of Prisons, and allowed courts to send them convicted juvenile offenders under 16 for a period of 2 to 5 years, instead of prison. Parents were required to contribute to the cost. Carpenter's 1851 publication Reformatory Schools for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes and for Juvenile Offenders was the first to coin the term 'Dangerous Classes' with respect to the lower classes, and the perceived propensity to criminality, of poor people.

In England, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon published A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women, together with a few Observations thereon.


The first Federal facility, Government Hospital for the Insane opened in Washington, D.C. It was renamed St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in 1916.

Prominent suffragists Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell marry; they eliminate the vow of obedience from the ceremony and include a protest against unfair marriage laws.

The first Young Men's Hebrew Association is organized in Baltimore. The YMCA is organized in Boston by retired sea captain Thomas C. Sullivan.

Life in the Asylum.” The Opal – A monthly Periodical of the State Lunatic Asylum, Devoted to Usefulness. 5: 4-6. Anonymous, New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

“Letters to the People on Health and Happiness.”  New York: Harper and Brothers. Beecher, Catherine.

“Two Years and Three Months in the New York Lunatic Asylum at Utica.” Syracuse: Published by the Author. Davis, Phebe B.

“Scenes from the Life of a Sufferer: Being the Narrative of a Residence in Morningside Asylum.” Edinburgh. by Anonymous  

In England, Mrs Henry Davies Pochin published (under pseudonym Justitia) The Right of Women to the Exercise of the Elective Franchise.

In England, George Eliot published Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft.

In England, A woman was appointed as an overseer of the poor at Undermillbeck, Westmoreland.

In England, Stephen Fullom published The History of Woman, And her Connexion with Religion, Civilization, and Domestic Manners, from the earliest period (denounced by George Eliot).

In England, Mrs Jameson published Sisters of Charity, Catholic and Protestant, Abroad and at Home.


The Opal Volume 6 New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

In England, Mrs Jameson published The Communion of Labour, a Second Lecture on the Social Employments of Women.

In England, Margaret Maria Brewster published Work, Plenty to Do and How to Do It. (Edinburgh.)

In England, Bessie Rayner Parkes published Remarks on the Education of Girls.

In England, Caroline Frances Cornwallis published The Property of Married Women.

In England, Emily Shirreff published Intellectual Education, and its influence on the Character and Happiness of Women.

In England, Petition for women to retain their property upon marriage was presented. Organised by Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon andBessie Rayner Parkes , its 26,000 signatories included Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jane Carlyle (wife of Thomas), Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell.


The Opal Volume 7 New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

The Supreme Court rules on the Dred Scott case, deciding that Dred Scott was still a slave, even though he was in free territory. The court also declares that no African American’s were citizens of the United States, which also meant they could not sue in a federal court. This decision also denied the power of Congress to restrict slavery in any federal territory. The decision sharpened the national debate over slavery. James Buchanan is President.  He took office at a time of great division and uproar over slavery. The nation was headed toward civil war, and he could not avert it. Buchanan personally opposed slavery, but as a public official he felt bound to sustain it where sanctioned by law. What some considered vacillation was an expression of three fundamental convictions: (1) that only by compromise between the parts could a federal republic survive; (2) that citizens had to obey the law even when they thought it unjust; and (3) that questions of morality could not be settled by political action. Despite the secession movement, he succeeded in preventing hostilities between North and South, and he turned over to Lincoln a nation at peace with eight slave states still in the Union.

A Massachusetts court is the first to recognize the spousal rape exemption. The court in Commonwealth v. Fogerty, relies solely on Lord Hale's statement (1500's) in recognizing in dictum that marriage to the victim was a defense to rape. 

In England, the Industrial Schools Act 1857 allowed magistrates to send disorderly children to a residential industrial school, resolving the problems of juvenile delinquency by removing poor and neglected children from their home environment into a boarding school. An 1876 Act led to non-residential day schools of a similar kind. In 1986 Professor Sir Leon Radzinowitz noted the practice of Economic conscription, where, ‘there was a network of 208 schools: 43 reformatories, 132 industrial schools, 21 day industrial schools and 12 truant schools’ by the eve of the First World War, alongside a negligible education system for the poor.

In England, Association for the Promotion of the Employment of Women established.

In England, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon published Women and Work.

In England, Caroline Frances Cornwallis published Capabilities and Disabilities of Women.

In England, Elizabeth Strutt published The Feminine Soul, its Nature and Attributes.

In England, Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act passed, by which divorce and separation became available to women. Previously, each divorce needed a separate Act of Parliament.

In England, Ladies' Sanitary Association founded.

In England, Matrimonial Causes Act (legally separated wife given right to keep what she earns; man may divorce wife for adultery, whereas wife must prove adultery aggravated by cruelty or desertion).

In England, Englishwoman's Journal started by Bessie Rayner Parkes and Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon . It later became the Englishwoman's Review.


Henry Knight cut the ribbon on the first institution for Undesirables in Connecticut stating, “Being consumers and not producers, they are a great pecuniary burden in the state.”

Medical Registration Act of 1858 which brought together physicians, apothecaries and surgeons and also controlled who went into the medical profession. An Act to Regulate the Qualifications of Practitioners in Medicine and Surgery was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which created the General Medical Council to regulate doctors in the UK, set up register of doctors who had to pass prescribed exams. Describing its purpose, the Act notes that "it is expedient that Persons requiring Medical Aid should be enabled to distinguish qualified from unqualified Practitioners". The Act creates the position of Registrar of the General Medical Council — an office still in existence today — whose duty is to keep up-to-date records of those registered to practice medicine and to make them publicly available. The Act has now been almost entirely repealed. The current law governing medical regulation is the Medical Act 1983. It stated that under the Poor Law system Boards of Guardians could only employ those qualified in medicine and surgery as Poor Law Doctors. Under a clause in the Act that recognized doctors with foreign degrees practising in Britain, Elizabeth Blackwell was able to become the first woman to have her name entered on the Medical Register (1 January 1859).

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Laurent Clerc retired from teaching at age 73. Louis Laurent Marie Clerc (26 December 1785 – 18 July 1869) was called "The Apostle of the Deaf in America" by generations of American deaf people. He was taught by Abbe Sicard, at the famous school for the Deaf in Paris, Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets. With Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, he co-founded the first school for the deaf in North America, the Hartford Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb on April 15, 1817 in the old Bennet's City Hotel, Hartford, Connecticut. The school was subsequently renamed the American School for the Deaf and in 1821 moved to its present site. The school remains the oldest existing school for the deaf in North America. Born December 26, 1785 in La Balme-les-Grottes, Isère, a village on the northeastern edge of Lyon to Joseph-François Clerc and Marie-Élisabeth Candy in the small village of La Balme where his father was the mayor, Laurent Clerc's home was a typical bourgeois household. When he was a year old, Clerc, while momentarily unattended, fell from a chair into the hearth, suffering a blow to the head and sustaining a permanent scar on the right side of his face below his ear. Clerc's family believed his deafness and inability to smell were caused by this accident, but Clerc later wrote that he was not certain and that he may have been born deaf and without the ability to smell or taste. The facial scar was later the basis for his name sign, the "U" hand shape stroked twice downward along the right cheek. Clerc's name sign would become the best known and most recognizable name sign in American deaf history and Clerc became the most renowned deaf person in American history. Clerc attended the famous school for the Deaf in Paris and was taught by Abbe Sicard. Clerc eventually became a teacher there. In 1815 he traveled to England to give a lecture and there first met Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Gallaudet was invited to visit the school in Paris, where, in 1816, he invited Clerc to accompany him to The United States to establish the first permanent school for the Deaf (American School for the Deaf) in Hartford, CT. "Every creature, every work of God, is admirably well made; but if any one appears imperfect in our eyes, it does not belong to us to criticise it. Perhaps that which we do not find right in its kind, turns to our advantage, without our being able to perceive it. Let us look at the state of the heavens, one while the sun shines, another time it does not appear; now the weather is fine; again it is unpleasant; one day is hot, another is cold; another time it is rainy, snowy or cloudy; every thing is variable and inconstant. Let us look at the surface of the earth: here the ground is flat; there it is hilly and mountainous; in other places it is sandy; in others it is barren; and elsewhere it is productive. Let us, in thought, go into an orchard or forest. What do we see? Trees high or low, large or small, upright or crooked, fruitful or unfruitful. Let us look at the birds of the air, and at the fishes of the sea, nothing resembles another thing. Let us look at the beasts. We see among the same kinds some of different forms, of different dimensions, domestic or wild, harmless or ferocious, useful or useless, pleasing or hideous. Some are bred for men's sakes; some for their own pleasures and amusements; some are of no use to us. There are faults in their organization as well as in that of men. Those who are acquainted with the veterinary art, know this well; but as for us who have not made a study of this science, we seem not to discover or remark these faults. Let us now come to ourselves. Our intellectual faculties as well as our corporeal organization have their imperfections. There are faculties both of the mind and heart, which education improve; there are others which it does not correct. I class in this number, idiotism, imbecility, dulness. But nothing can correct the infirmities of the bodily organization, such as deafness, blindness, lameness, palsy, crookedness, ugliness. The sight of a beautiful person does not make another so likewise, a blind person does not render another blind. Why then should a deaf person make others so also? Why are we Deaf and Dumb? Is it from the difference of our ears? But our ears are like yours; is it that there may be some infirmity? But they are as well organized as yours. Why then are we Deaf and Dumb? I do not know, as you do not know why there are infirmities in your bodies, nor why there are among the human kind, white, black, red and yellow men. The Deaf and Dumb are everywhere, in Asia, in Africa, as well as in Europe and America. They existed before you spoke of them and before you saw them." – Laurent Clerc, 1818.

The Opal Volume 8 New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

In England, The first swimming bath for ladies was opened, at Marylebone.

In England, Henry Thomas Buckle published The Influence of Women on the Progress of Knowledge, a Discourse delivered to the Royal Institution, 19th March 1858. (Pub. Leipzig.)


Charles Darwin published the On the Origin of Species, detailing his view of evolution and expanding on the theory of ‘Survival of the fittest.’ The Origin of Species, published by Charles Darwin, sets forth the theory of evolution, which provides a scientific approach to the understanding of plant and animal development. Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species” led to a pessimistic feeling that insanity, instead of being concerned with the will and moral management was a hereditary incapacity, leading to reduced concern for the unfortunate, and a feeling that the mad ought to be locked up.

The Opal Volume 9 New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

Josef Breuer published Traite Clinique et Therapeutique de L'Hysterie.

In England, Harriet Martineau published Female Industry.

In England, Isaac Reeve published The Intellect of Woman not Naturally Inferior to that of Man. 3rd edition.

In England, Society for the Employment of Women founded.

In England, The North East Lancashire Amalgamated Society was formed and accepted male and female mill workers.


“The travels and experiences of Miss Phebe B. Davis, of Barnard, Windsor County, VT, being a sequel to her two years and three months in the N.Y. state lunatic asylum at Utica, N.Y.” by Davis, Phebe. B.

Belgian psychiatrist Benedict Morel described the case of a 13-year-old boy, formerly an excellent pupil, who lost interest in school, became withdrawn, seclusive, quiet, and seemed to forget everything he had learned. He spoke often of killing his father. Morel called this mental deterioriation demence precoce, generally associated with old age. German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin later adopted the term dementia praecox to refer to conditions in which mental deterioration began early in life.

The Braille system was introduced to America and was taught with some success at the St. Louis School for the Blind. Simon Pollak demonstrates the use of braille at the Missouri School for the Blind.

The Gaffaudet Guide and Deaf Mutes' Companion becomes the first publication in the United States aimed at a disabled readership.

The University of Iowa became the first state university to admit women on an equal basis with men. They were also the first public U.S. university to grant a law degree to a woman (Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson, 1873), to grant a law degree to an African American (G. Alexander Clark, 1879), and to put an African American on a varsity athletic squad (Frank Kinney Holbrook, 1895).

By 1860, twenty states had laws limiting abortion

“Seven Months in the Kingston Lunatic Asylum, and What I Saw There,” by Ann Pratt.

In England, First admission of women students to the Royal Academy (Miss Herford).

In England, Institution for the Employment of Needlewomen founded.

In England, Law copying office for women opened.

In England, Victoria Printing Press established.


The Civil War. Suffrage efforts nearly come to a complete halt as women put their enfranchisement aside and pitch in for the war effort.

Of 27 million Americans, 8,500 are hospitalized in psychiatric institutions.


The American Civil War (1861 - 1865) creates thousands of amputees, 30,000 amputations in the Union Army alone. The first amputee of the war was a young Confederate soldier in Churchville, Virginia.

The U.S. Sanitary Commission, a forerunner of the American Red Cross, is established by the Secretary of War to encourage women's volunteer service during the Civil War.

Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton – “Could the dark secrets of those insane asylums be brought to light...we would be shocked to know the countless number of rebellious wives, sisters and daughters that are thus annually sacrificed to false customs and conventionalisms and barbarous laws made by men for women.”

John Stuart Mill writes The Subjection of Women, but waits 8 years to publish it because he did not think the public was ready to accept his essay. He pleads for Parliament to reform the divorce laws to allow women to divorce on the grounds of violence and cruelty. 

During 1861, the Civil war that freed the slaves also gave Americans great lessons on how to produce things that our country had to have based on mass consumption even if the quality of them was often inferior. American Veterans worked to assist the newly freed slaves. Some slaves were considered mentally ill just for trying to run away. (Drapetomania)

Helen Adams Keller is born In Tuscumbia, Alabama.

“The American Godhead: or, the Constitution of the United States Cast Down by Northern Slavery, or by the Power of Insane Hospitals.” Boston: The Author: Stone, Elizabeth.

“The Opal Volume 10,” New York: Utica State Lunatic Asylum. Edited by the “Patients.”

Dr. J. C. Hawthorne opens a private “insane asylum” in Portland.

Harriet Ann Jacobs, who was born into slavery in 1813, wrote one of the earliest autobiographical accounts of life as female slave. Jacobs published “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” which included descriptions of the sexual abuse endured by female slaves, in 1861.

French physician Paul Broca discovered an area in the left frontal lobe that plays a key role in language development.

In England, My Life and What Shall I Do With It? a Question for Young Gentlewomen, by an Old Maid (Miss March Phillips.)

In England, Offences Against the Person Act reduced the penalty for abortion from execution to life imprisonment.

In England, Lectures in physiology opened to ladies at University College.

In England, Offences Against the Persons Act made abortion a statutory offence. It confirmed the age of consent as 12, and made carnal knowledge of a girl under ten a felony and of a girl ten to twelve a misdemeanour.


“Statement of Mrs. Lydia B. Denny, Wife of Reuben S. Denny, of Boston, in Regard to Her Alleged Insanity.”  n.p. Denny, Lydia B.

The Veterans Reserve Corps is formed by the U.S. Army. After the war, many of its members join the Freedman's Bureau to work with recently emancipated slaves.


On December 6, 1862 President Lincoln refused to pardon the 38 Santee Sioux people sentenced to hang for protecting their land during the Dakota War of 1862. In early December, 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death. Some trials lasted less than 5 minutes. No one explained the proceedings to the defendants, nor were the Sioux represented by a defense in court. President Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the U.S., versus those who had committed crimes of rape and murder against civilians. The Army executed the 38 remaining prisoners by hanging on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota. It remains the largest mass execution in American history.

Congress passed the Homestead Act giving the Indians land to the settlers.

Freedmen's Aid Societies are established in the North to send teachers and relief supplies to former slaves in the South.


The Port Royal Experiment, a precursor to the Freedmen's Bureau, is begun. It is a presidentially authorized but voluntarily funded relief and rehabilitation program to relieve the destitution of 10,000 slaves who have been abandoned on island plantations.

Mary Jane Patterson became the first African-American woman to receive a BA degree when she graduated from Oberlin College. Patterson went on to teach in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and eventually settled in Washington DC. She served as principal of the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (now known as Dunbar High School) in DC during the 1870s—she was the school’s first African-American principal.

U.S. women take the places of men in factories, arsenals, bakeries, retail shops, and government offices as the military draft creates severe labor shortages

In England, First voyage of Miss Rye to Australia; start of her system of emigration.

In England, Ladies Negro Emancipation Society founded.

In England, New Church Order of Deaconesses founded.

In England, Social Science Congress in London; many women took part.




Mary Church was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on September23, 1863. Both her parents, Robert Church and Louisa Ayers, were both former slaves. Robert was the son of his white master, Charles Church.

During the Memphis race riots in 1866 Mary's father was shot in the head and left for dead. He survived the attack and eventually became a successful businessman. He speculated in the property market and was considered to be the wealthiest black man in the South.

Mary was an outstanding student and after graduating from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1884, she taught at a black secondary school in Washington and at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Through her father, Mary met Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. She was especially close to Douglass and worked with him on several civil rights campaigns.

After a two year travelling and studying in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and England (1888-1890), Mary returned to the United States where she married Robert Heberton Terrell, a lawyer who was later to become the first black municipal court judge in Washington.

In 1892 Church's friend, Tom Moss, a grocer from Memphis, was lynched by a white mob. Church and Frederick Douglass had a meeting with Benjamin Harrison concerning this case but the president was unwilling to make a public statement condemning lynching.

Church was an active member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was particularly concerned about ensuring the organization continued to fight for black women getting the vote. With Josephine Ruffin she formed the Federation of Afro-American Women and in 1896 she co- founded the National Association of Colored Women with Harriet Tubman and became the first president of the newly formed association.

She said this about the National Association of Colored Women,

"Through the National Association of Colored Women, which was formed by the union of two large organizations in July, 1896, and which is now the only national body among colored women, much good has been done in the past, and more will be accomplished in the future, we hope."

In 1904 Church was invited to speak at the Berlin International Congress of Women. She was the only black woman at the conference and determined to make a good impression she created a sensation when she gave her speech in German, French and English.

During the First World War Church and her daughter, Phillis Terrell joined Alice Paul and Lucy Burns of the Congressional Union for Women Suffrage (CUWS) in picketing the White House. She was particularly upset when in one demonstration outside of the White House, leaders of the party asked the black suffragist, Ida Wells-Barnett, not to march with other members. It was feared that identification with black civil rights would lose the support of white women in the South. Despite pressure from people like Mary White Ovington, leaders of the CUWS refused to publicly state that she endorsed black female suffrage.

In 1909 Church joined with Mary White Ovington to form the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). The first meeting of the NAACP was held on 12th February, 1909. Early members included Josephine Ruffin, Jane Addams, Inez Milholland, William Du Bois, Charles Darrow, Charles Edward Russell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and Ida Wells-Barnett.

Church wrote several books including her autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World (1940). In the early 1950s she was involved in the struggle against segregation in public eating places in Washington. Mary Church Terrell died in Annapolis on 24th July, 1954.


The New York Catholic Protectory is established. It eventually becomes the largest single institution for children in the country.


The first State Board of Charities is established in Massachusetts to supervise the administration of state charitable, medical, and penal institutions.

In England, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon published Of those who are the property of others, and of the great power that holds others as property.

In England, Queen's Institute founded in Dublin, for the industrial training of women.


“The Monomaniac, or Shirley Hall Asylum.” New York: James G. Gregory. Gilbert, William.

Description: 220px-New_York_State_Inebriate_Asylum

New York State Inebriate Asylum - first treatment center - based on belief that treatment had to be coerced.  Commitments to Inebriate Asylums common "until the patient is cured."

The U.S. Congress authorized the Columbus Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind to confer college degrees, and President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on April 8. Edward Miner Gallaudet was made president of the entire corporation, including the college. It was the first college in the world established for people with disabilities, and is now known as Gallaudet University. The enabling act giving the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind the authority to confer college degrees is signed by President Abraham Lincoln, making it the first college in the world expressly established for people with disabilities. A year later, the institution's blind students are transferred to the Maryland Institution at Baltimore, leaving the Columbia Institution with a student body made up entirely of deaf students.  The institution would eventually be renamed Gallaudet College, and then Gallaudet University.

“The Exposure on Board the Atlantic and Pacific Car of the Emancipation for the Slaves of Old Columbia…or, Christianity and Calvinism Compared, with an Appeal to the Government to Emancipate the Slaves of the Marriage of the Union.”  Chicago: Author Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware.

In England, First Contagious Diseases Act passed (women living in certain garrison towns liable to be declared prostitutes and forcibly examined for venereal disease). The opponents of the CD Acts were against them for these reasons: •They applied only to women and not to men, even though men also had VD •Diagnosis was often uncertain and syphilis was incurable, in any case •The medical examination was carried out by men, was extremely painful and humiliating, and left many women traumatised for life •The medical examination could (and did) destroy a woman's virginity and could (and did) cause miscarriages •No other British citizens were forced into and locked in hospitals for any other contagious disease •No other British citizen could be imprisoned for committing no offence (habeus corpus) •The Acts created a 'class' of women sanctioned by the government to be used by men for sex •Anyone with a grudge against any woman could report her as being a prostitute and have her examined •Women who had nothing to do with prostitution could (and were) falsely accused, ruining their reputations •Women who had nothing to do with prostitution could (and were) forcibly examined •A special branch of plain-clothed police were used to spy on women •Any woman who happened to be out of doors after dusk, going about her normal business, could be (and was) accused •It amounted to the state regulation of prostitution, a national disgrace •Prostitution was not inevitable, it arose from lack of money and lack of education and career opportunities for women •Prostitution was male abuse of females, against the wishes of God, and immoral: Supporters of the Acts argued that: •Men could not be examined, because they objected to it •Prostitution cannot be prevented, so you might as well just provide clean women for men to use •If a woman is innocent, she has nothing to fear from being medically examined •The scheme was already operating in India and Malta •The defence of the realm was at stake because so many fighting men had VD

In England, Female Medical and Obstetrical Society founded.

In England, Working Women's College founded at Queen's Square.

In England, Alexandra Magazine published for four monthly editions.


“Great Disclosure of Spiritual Wickedness!! In High Places with an Appeal to the Government to Protect the Inalienable Rights of Married Women.” Boston: Author. Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware.

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated; he was focused on Civil Rights. 

The Freedmen's Bureau was formed. The Freedmen's Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands) is founded as a joint effort of the federal government with private and philanthropic organizations. The bureau provides food, clothing, and shelter for freedmen and refugees; administers justice to protect the rights of black men; protects freedmen and refugees from physical violence and fraud; and provides education.


Slavery is abolished by the 13th amendment, which is ratified on December 6.

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp years earlier. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated. Note the “Bellamy Salute.” (See Francis Bellamy, 1892) The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo--which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866--because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. Decoration Day was observed by many towns beginning back in 1861, the gathering spoken of here was the first nationally publicized event specifically because it was observed by former slaves. The Executive Order of Commander-in-Chief General Logan made it an officially recognized day of observance and it became a National Holiday under House Concurrent Resolution 587 in 1866.

The Klu Klux Klan was formed. They believed in European white supremacy and enforced their beliefs with violence.

    wearing the Medal of Honor

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832 – 1919) is recorded as the first female surgeon in the United States (Wirtzfeld, 2009). Her practice failed, evidently, because she refused to change her last name to that of her husband, Dr. Albert Miller. She became an army surgeon in 1863 and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for her service in the Civil War. In 1917, Congress revoked it. She refused to give it back and took it to her grave in 1919. At the beginning of the American Civil War, she volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian. At first, she was only allowed to practice as a nurse, as the U.S. Army had no female surgeons. During this period, she served at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 21, 1861 and at the Patent Office Hospital in Washington, D.C. She worked as an unpaid field surgeon near the Union front lines, including the Battle of Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga. As a suffragette, she was happy to see women serving as soldiers and alerted the press to the case of Frances Hook (a woman who disguised herself as a man to serve in the war) in Ward 2 of the Chattanooga hospital. In September 1862 Walker wrote to the War Department requesting employment on Secret Service to spy on the enemy, but the offer was declined. Finally, she was employed as a "Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)" by the Army of the Cumberland in September 1863, becoming the first-ever female surgeon employed by the U.S. Army. Walker was later appointed assistant surgeon of the 52nd Ohio Infantry. During this service, she frequently crossed battle lines, treating civilians. On April 10, 1864 she was captured by Confederate troops and arrested as a spy, just after she finished helping a confederate doctor perform an amputation. She was sent to Castle Thunder in Richmond, Virginia and remained there until August 12, 1864 when she was released as part of a prisoner exchange. She went on to serve during the Battle of Atlanta and later as supervisor of a female prison in Louisville, Kentucky, and head of an orphanage in Tennessee. After the war, she became a writer and lecturer, supporting such issues as health care, temperance, women's rights and dress reform for women. She was frequently arrested for wearing masculine styled clothing and insisted on her right to wear clothing that she thought appropriate. She wrote two books that discussed women's rights and dress. She participated for several years with other leaders in the women's suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The initial stance of the movement, taking Dr. Walker's lead, was to say that women already had the right to vote, and Congress need only enact enabling legislation. After a number of fruitless years working at this, the movement took the new tack of working for a Constitutional amendment. This was diametrically opposed to Mary Walker's position, and she fell out of favor with the movement. She continued to attend conventions of the suffrage movement and distribute her own brand of literature, but was virtually ignored by the rest of the movement. Her penchant for wearing male-style clothing, including a top hat, only exacerbated the situation. She received a more positive reception in England than in the United States. After the war, Walker was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas. On November 11, 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a bill to present her the medal. Citation: "Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, "has rendered valuable service to the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways," and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major-Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made. It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her." In 1917, the U.S. Congress created a pension act for Medal of Honor recipients and in doing so created separate Army and Navy Medal of Honor Rolls. Only the Army decided to review eligibility for inclusion on the Army Medal of Honor Roll. The 1917 Medal of Honor Board deleted 911 names from the Army Medal of Honor Roll including that of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. None of the 911 recipients were ordered to return their medals although on the question of whether the recipients could continue to wear their medals the Judge Advocate General advised the Medal of Honor Board that there was no obligation on the Army to police the matter. Walker continued to wear her medal until her death. Walker died on February 21, 1919, from natural causes at the age of 86 and is buried in Rural Cemetery Oswego, New York. She had a plain funeral, but an American flag was draped over her casket and she was buried in her black suit instead of a dress. Her death in 1919 came one year before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which guaranteed women the right to vote. President Jimmy Carter restored her medal posthumously in 1977.

In England, Elizabeth Garrett received her medical diploma from the Apothecaries' Hall.

In England, John Ruskin spoke out against women's suffrage.

In England, John Malcolm Ludlow published Woman's Work in the Church. Historical Notes on Deaconesses and Sisterhoods.

In England, Bessie Rayner Parkes published Essays on Women's Work. Dedicated to Mrs Jameson.


Alfred Meyer (1866-1950) believed in living medicine, seeing the patient in his own world. His wife became what was later called a social worker, visiting Meyer's patients to learn more about their home backgrounds. Rather than seeing disturbance as a result of brain pathology he saw it as a reaction or maladjustment involving the total person. He helped to change the hospital's approach from custody to active therapy, and stressed the importance of unhurried conversations with patients.

The first municipal Board of Health is created by the New York Metropolitan Health Law.


The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), which originated in England in 1855, is founded in Boston by Grace Dodge. The YWCA establishes the first boarding house for female students, teachers, and factory workers in 1860 and the first child care facility in 1864. It initiates a history of "firsts" for helping women.

“Marital Power Exemplified in Mrs. Packard's Trial and Self-Defense from the Charge of Insanity; or, Three Years Imprisonment for Religious Belief, by the Arbitrary Will of a Husband, with an Appeal to the Government to so Change the Laws as to Afford Legal Protection to Married Women.” Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood, Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware

The Eleventh National Women's Rights Convention, the first since the beginning of the Civil War, is held in New York City. Lucretia Mott presides over a merger between suffragists and the American Anti-Slavery Association: the new group is called the American Equal Rights Association.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty towards animals. Based in New York City since its inception in 1866, the organization's mission is "to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States." This organization was a partner in the creation of the American Humane Association in 1877 for the protection of children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is formed. It predates the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, established in 1875. Both predate any organization aimed at preventing cruelty to women. 

In England, Suffrage societies started in Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

In England, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon published Reasons for the Enfranchisement of Women.

In England, Emily Davies published The Higher Education of Women.

In England, Lydia Becker published Female Suffrage. (Reprinted from the Contemporary Review.)

In England, T. Chisholm Anstey Esq. published On Some Supposed Constitutional Restraints on the Parliamentary Franchise.

In England, Second CD Act

In England, Charlotte Carmichael Stopes published her essay Strong-Mindedness.

In England, First petition for the suffrage, signed by 1,499 eminent women, presented by John Stuart Mill. Signatories included Florence Nightingale and Mary Somerville.

In England, Isaac Baker Brown performed many clitoridectomies at his 50 bed private clinic in London. Eventually he was expelled from the Obstetrical Society.


From the late 1860s until the 1970s, several American cities had ugly laws making it illegal for persons with "unsightly or disgusting" disabilities to appear in public. Some of these laws were called unsightly beggar ordinances. The first appearance of the ordinance seems to date to 1867 in San Francisco, California. The ordinance seems to have been welcomed particularly from the 1880s on in Western and particularly Midwestern cities with strong, networked cultures of reform, towns bound to each other and the rest of the nation by railroad ties. Its zone extended eastward, too. The state of Pennsylvania passed a state version of the law in the early 1890s. Some New Yorkers, inspired by Pennsylvania, made an unsuccessful attempt to get a city ordinance passed in 1895. The most commonly cited ugly law is that of the "City of Chicago Ordinance, 1911." The Chicago Municipal Code, sec. 36034 included an ordinance that provided: No person who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person to be allowed in or on the public ways or other public places in this city, or shall therein or thereon expose himself to public view, under a penalty of not less than one dollar nor more than fifty dollars for each offense. Many states' ugly laws were not repealed until the mid-1970s. Chicago was the last to repeal its ugly law as late as 1974. Columbus, Ohio: General Offense Code, sec. 2387.04. Omaha, Nebraska: Unsightly Beggar Ordinance Nebraska Municipal Code of 1941, sec. 25. Punishments for being caught in public ranged from incarceration to fines of up to $50 for each offense.

 “Life in a Lunatic Asylum: An Autobiographical Sketch.” London by Anonymous.

The state of Ohio authorizes county homes for children.

Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, Clarina Nichols, and others travel to Kansas to agitate for women's suffrage. After months of campaigning, suffragists are defeated on the fall ballot.

A man in North Carolina is acquitted of giving his wife three licks with a switch about the size of one of his fingers, but smaller than his thumb. The reviewing appellate court later upheld the acquittal on the grounds that the court should "not interfere with family government in trifling cases." 

At the American Equal Rights Association annual meeting, opinions divide sharply on supporting the enfranchisement of black men before women.

In England, Ninon Kingsford published The Admission of Women to the Parliamentary Franchise.

In England, Professor F.W. Newman published Old England - Women's Right of Suffrage.

In England, Lydia Becker founded the Manchester National Society for Women's Suffrage.

In England, Helen Taylor published The Claims of Englishwomen to the Suffrage Considerered. (Reprinted from the Westminster Review.)

In England, John Stuart Mill's speech in the House of Commons for votes for women .

In England, Reform Act extended the vote to most working-class male householders.



Mrs. Elizabeth Packard, (1816-1897) one of North America's first ex-insane asylum inmate activists, confined from 1860-63 in Illinois State Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois, published the first of several books and pamphlets in which she detailed her forced commitment by her husband in the Jacksonville (Illinois) insane Asylum.

Elizabeth Packard, founder of the Anti-Insane Asylum Society, published a series of books and pamphlets describing her experiences in the Illinois insane asylum to which her husband had had her committed. Elizabeth Packard was locked up in a state insane asylum in Illinois from 1860 - 1863 because she disagreed with some of her husband's religious views, had different ideas than he did about how to raise their children, and also because she opposed slavery while he was in favor of it. For daring to have such opinions, she spent three years confined as a madwoman.

In a series of publications and numerous public speeches, she recounted what happened to her and why laws and conditions in asylums needed to be changed. Some reports credit her years of work to getting 21-34 laws changed across the United States around these and related matters dealing with inmates' rights. She also visited asylum inmates in various states to offer her personal support. The American Bar Association, in a 1968 report, said that Elizabeth Packard was responsible for changes to commitment laws in Illinois, Iowa and Massachusetts and other states as well.

She was crucial to raising public consciousness in North America about the treatment of asylum inmates during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Some publications by Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard:

*           Barbara Sapinsley, “The Private War of Mrs. Packard”. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

*           'Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard' in “Women of the Asylum: Voices from behind the Walls, 1840-1945”, edited by J. Geller and M. Harris. New York: Anchor Books, 1994: pages 58-68.

“Before I entered an insane asylum and learned its hidden life from the standpoint of the patient, I had not supposed that the inmates were outlaws, in the sense that the law did not protect them in any of their inalienable rights.” – Elizabeth Packard

She also founded the Anti-Insane Asylum Society in Illinois in 1868 (which apparently never became a viable organization) based on her experience of commitment in an Illinois Asylum.  Her husband committed her because her religious beliefs were different than her, 

From: Psychiatric News December 7, 2001

Volume 36 Number 23

© 2001 American Psychiatric Association

p. 40

History Notes

Pioneer for Patients’ Rights

By Lucy Ozarin, M.D.

While Dorothea Dix was pleading with state legislators in the mid-19th century to establish asylums for the mentally ill, Elizabeth Packard was engaged in a nationwide campaign to protect to the inmates of those asylums.

Mrs. Packard, the wife of a Presbyterian clergyman in Monteno, Ill., and mother of six children, was summarily committed in 1860 to the asylum in Jacksonville, Ill. At that time, Illinois law stated that “married women with infants who in judgment of the medical superintendents of the state asylums are evidently insane or distracted may be detained at the request of the husband or guardian without the evidence of insanity required in other cases.”

Mrs. Packard remained in the asylum for three years. She claimed her husband put her there because her liberal theological views differed from his Calvinist theology. She finally obtained a hearing before the asylum trustees, who ordered the asylum superintendent to return her to her husband. He subsequently locked her up in their home.

Learning that her husband was planning to have her committed to the Northhampton asylum in her native Massachusetts, Mrs. Packard smuggled a note to a friend who obtained a writ of habeus corpus from a local judge, and a jury trial over the issue followed. She was declared sane and then moved to her father’s house in Massachusetts, where she began a campaign against what she termed excesses of the asylums.

She published three books, which had extensive circulation and sales. (Copies of the books are in the APA Library Rare Books Room.)

The title page of the first book, published in 1866, reads: “Marital Power Exemplified in Mrs. Packard’s Trial and Self Deferral from the Charge of Insanity or Three Years Imprisonment for Religious Belief by the Arbitrary Will of a Husband with an Appeal to the Government to Change the Laws as to Afford Protection to Married Women.”

The second book, which was published in 1868, was titled The Prisoner’s Hidden Life or Insane Asylums Unveiled as Demonstrated by the Investigating Committee of the Legislature of Illinois Together with Mrs. Packard Coadjutor’s Testimony.

The third book, which came out in 1869, Modern Persecution or Insane Asylums Unveiled, recounted the experiences of patients whom Mrs. Packard met while she was in the asylum.

Having succeeded in arousing considerable public interest, Mrs. Packard fought for laws that would protect women’s rights regarding commitment, and she also championed a personal liberty bill, which the Illinois legislature passed in 1869. That law required a jury trial for before a person could be committed to an asylum, and it remained in effect for 25 years. Iowa enacted a similar law in 1872, and the Massachusetts legislature also took similar steps to safeguard the rights of patients.

Mrs. Packard’s campaign helped to mobilize sufficient public interest and support so that in 1880, a group of influential citizens and social reformers organized the National Society for the Protection of the Insane and the Prevention of Insanity. The society disbanded in 1886. Albert Deutsch, in his book The Mentally Ill in America, cites the unremitting antagonism of the National Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association) as helping bring about the demise of the organization.

A long, unsigned editorial in the October 1869 issue of the American Journal of Insanity (now the American Journal of Psychiatry), presumably written by the editor, Dr. John Gray, superintendent of the Utica (N.Y.) State Hospital, begins, “For the last two or three years, the state of Illinois has been singularly under the influence of a handsome and talkative crazy woman and of a Legislature prompted by her to be crazy on at least one point,” and “an attractive person and a double-springed tongue gave force and persuasion to the direful romance of this fascinating woman, and she was successful enough, by her feminine arts, to bewitch a whole legislature.”

Dr. Gray portrayed Mrs. Packard as a crazy but fascinating (sexy?) woman, but perhaps she was an early feminist seeking the rights of women in a male-dominated society. Whichever was the case, she was quite successful.


On June 18, 1860, Mrs. Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard was abducted on her husband’s orders and taken to the insane asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she spent the next three years. After she was released, she wrote profusely. In one volume, Modern Persecution or Insane Asylums Unveiled, she detailed her experiences during that time. For the first four months of my prison life, Dr. McFarland treated me himself, and caused me to be treated with all the respect of a hotel boarder, so far as lay in his power. As to medical treatment, I received none at all, either from himself, or his subordinates. And the same may be said with equal truth, of all the inmates. This is the general rule; those few cases where they receive any kind of medical treatment, are the exceptions. 0A little ale occasionally is the principal part of the medical treatment which these patients receive, unless his medical treatment consists in the “laying on of hands,” for this treatment is almost universally bestowed. But the manner in which this was practiced, varied very much in different cases. For the first four months the Doctor “laid his hands” very gently upon me, except that the pressure of my hand in his was sometimes quite perceptible, and sometimes, as I thought, longer continued than this healing process demanded! …But after these four months he laid his hands upon me in a different manner, and as I then thought and still do think, far too violently. There was no mistaking the character of these grips—no duplicity after this period, rendered this modern mode of treatment of doubtful interpretation to me. [The eighth] ward was then considered the worst in the house, inasmuch as it then contained some of the most dangerous class of patients, even worse than the fifth in this respect, and in respect to filth and pollution it surpassed the fifth at that time. It is not possible for me to conceive of a more fetid smell, than the atmosphere of this hall exhaled. An occupant of this hall would inevitably become so completely saturated with this most offensive effluvia that the odor of the eighth ward patients could be distinctly recognized at a great distance, even in the open air. I could, in a few moments after the Doctor put me in among them, even taste this most fetid scent at the pit of my stomach. Even our food and drink were so contaminated with it, we could taste nothing else sometimes. It at first seemed to me, I must soon become nothing less than a heap of putrefaction. But I have found out that I can live, move, breathe, and have a being, where I once thought I could not! The patients were never washed all over, although they were the lowest, filthiest class of prisoners. They could not wait upon themselves any more than an infant, in many instances, and none took the trouble to wait upon them. The accumulation of this defilement about their persons, their beds, their rooms, and the unfragrant puddles of water through which they would delight to wade and wallow, rendered the exhalations in every part of the hall almost intolerable. One night I was aroused from my slumbers by the screams of a new patient who was entered in my hall. The welcome she received from her keepers, Miss Smith and Miss Bailey, so frightened her that she supposed they were going to kill her. Therefore, for screaming under these circumstances, they forced her into a screen-room and locked her up. Still fearing the worst, she continued to call for “Help!” Instead of attempting to soothe and quiet her fears, they simply commanded her to stop screaming. But failing to obey their order, they then seized her violently and dragged her to the bathroom, where they plunged her into the bathtub of cold water. This shock so convulsed her in agony that she now screamed louder than before. They then drowned her voice by strangulation, by holding her under the water until nearly dead. When she could speak, she plead in the most piteous tones for “Help! Help!” But all in vain. The only response was “Will you scream any more?” She promised she would not, but to make it a thorough “subduing,” they plunged her several times after she had made them this promise! My room was directly opposite with open ventilators over both doors, I could distinctly hear all. This is what they call giving the patient a “good bath!” But the bewildered, frightened stranger finds it hard to see the “good” part of it. The patient was then led, wet and shivering, to her room, and ordered to bed with the threat, “If you halloo again, we shall give you another bath.”


Similarly, in Massachusetts at about the same time, Elizabeth Stone, also committed by her husband, tried to rally public opinion to the cause of stopping the unjust incarceration of the “insane.”


Stanton and Anthony have a falling out with longtime ally Horace Greely, editor of the New York Tribune. As a result, Stanton and Anthony begin publishing The Revolution, a weekly newspaper devoted to suffrage and other progressive causes.


oledo State Hospitalassillon State Hospital
Toledo State Hospital                  Massillon State Hospital

On the evening of November 18, 1868, the Columbus Asylum was almost wholly destroyed by fire. Six patients died in the fire, and the remaining 308 were transferred to the state’s asylums in Cleveland, Dayton and Cincinnati. The following year, the legislature authorized rebuilding the asylum on the same site but later decided to build on the hilltop west of downtown where 300 acres were purchased from William S. Sullivant for $250 per acre. The hospital was completed on July 4, 1877 at a cost just more than $1.5 million. State hospitals were established in Toledo in 1888 and in Massillon in 1898.

The Treaty of 1868 is negotiated between General Sherman and the Navajos. General Sherman insists that the Navajos select male leaders, thereby stripping women of their ability to participate in decision-making. The alien law destroys traditional relationships and concentrates power in the hands of male leaders. "Anglo" paternalism and patriarchy are introduced to Navajo men who learn several "traditions" including robbing women of economic and political power, and wife-beating. 


The Massachusetts Board of State Charities begins payments for orphans to board in private family homes.


The 14th amendment is ratified on July 9; it provides that all people born or naturalized in the United States are U.S. citizens and have rights no state can abridge or deny.

“Two years and four months in a lunatic asylum: From August 20th, 1863 to December 20th, 1865.” Saratoga Springs, NY: Van Benthuysen and Sons. Chase, Harim

“Mrs. Olsen’s Narrative of her One Year’s Imprisonment at Jacksonville Insane Asylum.”  Appended to “The Prisoner’s Hidden Life or Insane Asylums Unveiled.”  Elizabeth Packard.  Chicago: Author. Olsen, Sophie.

“The Prisoner’s Hidden Life; or, Insane Asylums Unveiled.” Chicago: Author. Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware.

The Massachusetts Board of State Charities began paying for children to board in private family homes.

In England, General Election. Many women got on the register and voted. One woman (shop owner Lily Maxwell) voted in Manchester (for Jacob Bright).

In England, The Court of Common Pleas declared women's suffrage illegal.

In England, Publication of a list of MPs and other persons favourable to the Women's Suffrage Movement.

In England, Lydia Becker published Equality of Women, a paper read before the British Association at Norwich.

In England, Dr Pankhurst published The Right of Women to Vote Under the Reform Act of 1867.

In England, Frances Power Cobbe published Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors: Is the Classification sound?

In England, Josephine Butler published The Education and Employment of Women.


Sir Francis Galton, Influenced by Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species,’ publishes ‘Hereditary Genius,’ and argues that intellectual abilities are biological in nature.

The first wheelchair patent is registered with the U.S. Patent Office.

The first permanent state board of health and vital statistics is founded in Massachusetts.

Reasons for Admission to Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, 1864 to 1869

Central State Hospital in Virginia was established in 1869 exclusively for “colored insane.”

“The Life and Travels of Benjamin S. Snider: His Persecution, Fifteen Times a Prisoner.” Washington: The Author, Snider, Benjamin S.

In 1869, an agent was appointed to visit children in their homes. This was the beginning of placing out, a movement to care for children in families rather than institutions.

Propaganda flourished; if a textbook printed it and a teacher said it then it must be fact!

The President gave an 8 hour work day to federal employees all other workers still worked 10-12 if they wanted to or not.

The territory of Wyoming is the first to grant unrestricted suffrage to women. Arguments over the Fifteenth Amendment lead to a split in the movement.

Stanton and Anthony form the National Woman Suffrage Association; it allows only female membership and advocates for woman suffrage above all other issues. Lucy Stone forms the American Woman Suffrage Association, which supports the Fifteenth Amendment and invites men to participate.

In 1869, Susan B. Anthony occasionally mentioned abortion. Susan B. Anthony opposed abortion, which at the time was an unsafe medical procedure for women, endangering their health and life. She blamed men, laws and the "double standard" for driving women to abortion because they had no other options. "When a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is a sign that, by education or circumstances, she has been greatly wronged."  She believed, as did many of the feminists of her era that only the achievement of women’s equality and freedom would end the need for abortion.  Anthony used her anti-abortion writings as yet another argument for women’s rights. Woman’s rights Crusaders began marching through towns singing temperance songs.

In one of the first such court rulings, the parents of Samuel Fletcher, Jr. are found guilty of child abuse. Fletcher, who was born blind, was locked into the cellar of his family's house for several days by his parents. Upon escaping he notified authorities and his parents were arrested. They were fined $300 in one of the first court rulings that recognized children's right to be protected by law against abuse and cruelty.

Hungarian physician K.M. Benkert invents the term “homosexuality.” He argues against the legal repression of lesbians and gay men. “Their unfortunate conduct is not their fault,” says this “humanitarian psychiatrist,” because the urge is congenital (inborn).

Psychiatrist Karl von Westphal diagnoses a lesbian, labeling her “condition” as “contrary sexual feelings.” He concedes that the “condition” does not necessarily indicate insanity.

In England, Rev. Charles Kingsley published Women and Politics (reprinted from Macmillan's Magazine).

In England, Josephine Butler (ed.) published Woman's Work and Woman's Culture: a Series of Essays.

In England, First Women's college at Cambridge founded (Girton College).

In England, Mrs C.H. Spear published A Brief Essay on the Position of Women.

In England, John Stuart Mill published On the Subjection of Women.

In England, E. Lynn Linton published Ourselves: a Series of Essays on Women.

In England, Ladies' Educational Association founded in London. (It dissolved in 1878 when University College began admitting women).

In England, Municipal Reform Act gave women the vote in local elections.

In England, Telegraph service nationalised, and its twelve female staff thus became civil servants.

In England, Third CD Act .

In England, Women's Club and Institute opened in Newman St, London.

In England, Women's College opened at Hitchin (this became Girton).

In England, Endowed Schools Act created over 90 girls' schools.


Jean Charcot worked with women and their hysteria for the first time.

Pierre Janet, a French medical psychologist, was the first to systemically explore and treat trauma memories that created hysteria (dissociation) symptoms. He believed these events were mentally "dissociated", set aside from ordinary processes of the mind, losing linkage to conscious thought.

Sylvia Fraser, incest survivor and author noted, 'we, as a society, prefer to believe infants lust after adults rather than parents initiate sexual contact with children'.


“Lunatic Asylums: Their Use and Abuse.” New York. Titus, Mrs. Ann H.

“Narrative of a Pilgrim and Sojourner on Earth, from 1791 to the Present Year, 1870,” by Louisa Perina Courtauld Clemens.

Offices of the London School Board by Bodley and Garner, 1872-76. Demolished 1929.

In England, Prior to the Elementary Education Act 1870 act, very few schools existed, other than those run by the Church. The National Education League was established to promote elementary education for all children, free from religious control. The Act first introduced and enforced compulsory school attendance between the ages of 5 and 12, with school boards set up to ensure that children attended school; although exemptions were made for illness and travelling distance. The London School Board was highly influential and launched a number of political careers. The Church/State ethical divide in schooling, persists into the present day.

Archie Meek, who first suggested a union of mental patients to Thomas Ritchie, was born about 1870

The first of 112 of Thomas John Barnardo's Homes was founded, with destitution as the criterion for qualification. The project was supported by the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury and the first Earl Cairns. The system of operation was broadly as follows: infants and younger girls and boys are chiefly "boarded out" in rural districts; girls above 14 years of age are sent to 'industrial training homes' to be taught useful domestic occupations; boys above 17 years old are first tested in labour homes and then placed in employment at home, sent to sea or emigrated; boys between 13 – 17 years old were trained for trades for which they may be mentally or physically fitted.

The Massachusetts Board of State Charities appoints the first "agent" to visit children in foster homes.


The National Prison Association is founded in Cincinnati; it is renamed American Prison Association in 1954 and is now called the American Correctional Association.


The Home for Aged and Infirm Hebrews of New York City opens; it is the first Jewish institutional home in the United States.


Ratification on February 3 of the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the right of citizens (except women) to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous servitude.

The American Woman Suffrage Association begins publishing the Woman's Journal, edited by Mary Livermore.

Esther Morris is appointed the justice of the peace of South Pass City, Wyoming: she is the first female government official.

The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified. Although its gender-neutral language appears to grant women the vote, women who go to the polls to test the amendment are turned away.

The Utah territory enfranchises women.

In England, Leavesden Mental Hospital was founded in 1870 on the outskirts of Abbots Langley by the Metropolitan Asylums Board as the Metropolitan Asylum for Chronic Imbeciles. At the same time the St Pancras Union Workhouse established an Industrial School across the road. In 1920, the asylum was renamed the Leavesden Mental Hospital. The London County Council took control in 1930. In April, 1932, the former St Pancras Industrial School was taken over as an annex for chronic cases. The hospital closed in 1997. The Jack the Ripper suspect, Aaron Kosminski, was admitted to Leavesden Asylum on 19 April 1894. Case notes indicate that Kosminski had been ill since at least 1885. His insanity took the form of auditory hallucinations, a paranoid fear of being fed by other people that drove him to pick up and eat food dropped as litter, and a refusal to wash or bathe.

In England, Women lost the right to retain British nationality when marrying a foreigner.

In England, Cambridge Local Examinations opened to girls and women.

In England, Education Act improved both schooling for girls and the teaching profession for women.

In England, School Board Act allowed women to stand for election. Elizabeth Garrett (later Anderson) and Emily Davies elected in London; Miss Becker in Manchester.

In England, Exams opened to women at Queen's University, Ireland.

In England, First Married Woman's Property Act .

In England, John D. Milne published Industrial Employment of Women, in the Middle and Lower Ranks.

In England, Josephine Butler published On the Moral Reclaimability of Prostitutes.

In England, The Women's Suffrage Journal first published. It continued monthly for 20 years.

In England, Mary Taylor published The First Duty of Women: a Series of Articles reprinted from the Victoria Magazine.

In England, Mrs Wm. Grey published Is the Exercise of Suffrage Unfeminine?

In England, Lady Amberley published her lecture The Claims of Women

In England, Ladies National Association for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts founded by Josephine Butler.

In England, Married Women's Property Act passed for England.

In England, National Indian Association founded by Miss Carpenter to improve the education of Indian women.

In England, Vigilance Association founded, chiefly engaged in women's issues.


Alabama is the first state to rescind the legal right of men to beat their wives (Fulgrahm v. State).  Massachusetts also declares wife beating illegal. 

“Behind Bars.” Boston: Lee & Shepard. Lunt, Adeline T.P.

The Descent of Man, published by Charles Darwin, applies the theory of evolution to the human species, thus breaking the authority of theologians in the life sciences and providing a basis for a scientific approach to humans and their social relationships.

In England, The Ladies' Life Assurance Company founded. Married women could, since the 1870 MWPA, insure their own lives with their own money.

In England, Home for Deserted Mothers and Infants founded at 3 Cumberland St, London.

In England, Working Women's Club changed to Berner Club. Moved to 9 Berners Street, London.

In England, A debate took place in the House of Commons on the Women's Disabilities Bill.

In England, John Walter Bourke published The Emancipation of Women (a lecture).

In England, A.H. published Words of Weight in the Woman Question (1,176 quotations arranged so as to form a consecutive argument).

In England, Ladies' National Health Association founded by Dr Elizabeth Blackwell.

In England, National Association for Promoting the Medical Education of Women founded. (Still extant 1894.)

In England, Law regarding married women's property changed in Ireland.

In England, National Union for Improving the Education of women founded by Mrs Grey.


Clitoridectomies are performed in association with women’s mental disorders.       

In England, Clifford Allbutt used the passage of electric current through the head for treatment of mania, brain-wasting, dementia and melancholia.


The American Public Health Association is founded (the Social Work Section is later formed in 1976).


“The Dangerous Classes of New York” and “Twenty, Years' Work among Them,” by Charles Loring Brace, exposes the conditions of immigrants and children and helps initiate the adoption movement in the United States.

“My Outlawry, A Tale of Madhouse Life.” London, by Louisa Lowe  

“Report of a Case Heard in Queen's Bench, November 22nd, 1872, Charging the Commissioners in Lunacy with Concurring in the Improper Detention of a Falsely-Alleged Lunatic and Wrongfully Tampering with her Correspondence.” London by Louisa Lowe.  

“How an Old Woman Obtained Passive Writing and the Outcome Thereof.” London, by Louisa Lowe 

“A Nineteenth Century Adaptation of Old Inventions to the Repression of New Thoughts and Personal Liberty.” London, by Louisa Lowe

“Gagging in Madhouses as Practised by Government Servants in a Letter to the People, by one of the Gagged.” London, by Louisa Lowe  

Alexander G. Bell opened speech school for teachers of the deaf in Boston.

The New York State Charities Aid Association was organized. Charities were comprised mostly of upper class elite women.

The beginning of the Urban Mission Movement. Water Street Mission opened in New York City by Jerry and Maria McAuley, both redeemed alcoholics. Catered to homeless inebriates and special needs of the Skid Row alcoholic. Forerunner of the Salvation Army, viewed recovery from addiction as a process of religious conversion - a process of spiritual rebirth

A suffrage proposal before the Dakota Territory legislature loses by one vote.

“The Lunacy Laws and Trade in Lunacy in a Correspondence with the Earl of Shaftesbury.” London, by Louisa Lowe

In England, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon published Reasons for and against the Enfranchisement of Women.

In England, Infant Life Protection Act tries to abolish baby-farming.

In England, Girls' Public Day School Company founded.

In England, Baroness Coutts became the first woman to be granted the Freedom of the City of London.

In England, Girton College founded. Staff and students of Hitchin College moved into it.

In England, Infant Life Protection Act.

In England, New Bastardy Act passed. Fathers once again responsible (equally with the mother) for support of illegitimate children.

In England, New Hospital for Women founded at Marylebone, with female doctors.


“Modern Persecution; or Insane Asylums Unveiled.” Hartford: Author: Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware.

The Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles for Immoral Use it was part of a campaign for legislating public morality in the United States.  The Comstock Law was meant to stop trade in "obscene literature" and "immoral articles."  In reality, the Comstock Law targeted not only obscenity and "dirty books" but also birth control devices, abortion, and information on sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases.  The Comstock Law was widely used to prosecute those who distributed such information.


On June 19 the prominent American suffragist Susan B. Anthony was sentenced and fined for voting in the 1872 Presidential Election. Anthony was arrested in November 1872 for "illegally voting" as a woman and her two-day trial concluded in Rochester, New York. At her trial, the judge refused to allow Anthony to testify on her own behalf and, after she was convicted, he read an opinion that he had written before the trial even started. The sentence was a $100 fine to which she declared, "I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” True to her words, she never paid the fine for the rest of her life!

In England, Custody of Infants Act passed. Enabled a husband, upon separation, to give up custody of children to his wife.

In England, Reported that, of 50,000 children born annually out of wedlock, 30,000 died within 6 months.

In England, First School Board Election in Scotland: 20 women elected.

In England, First school of the Girls' Public Day School Company opened at Chelsea.

In England, Mrs Nassau Senior appointed Assistant Inspector of Workhouses. First ever government appointment of a lady.

In England, Second English School Board.


Carl Wernicke published his work on the frontal lobe, detailing that damage to a specific area damages the ability to understand or produce language.


The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) – the first national organization composed of community-based groups – was founded and focused on the problems that alcohol caused families and society. The Women's Christian Temperance Union is founded by Annie Wittenmeyer of Iowa. Within a few years the WCTU will have 25,000 members, and under the leadership of Frances Willard, will provide important support to the suffrage movement.

In the case of Minor vs. Happersett, the Supreme Court rules that the Fourteenth Amendment does not grant women the right to vote.

Representatives of the State Boards of Charities of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Wisconsin organize the Conference of Boards of Public Charities within the American Social Science Association on May 20. An annual conference, in 1879 it became the National Conference of Charities and Correction in a takeover by the voluntary agencies. It was a precursor to the National Conference of Social Work, renamed in 1917. The organization became the National Council on Social Welfare in July 1956.

A referendum gives Michigan's male voters the chance to enfranchise women, but they vote against women's suffrage.

The "finger-switch" rule is disavowed when the Supreme Court of North Carolina rules that "the husband has no right to chastise his wife under any circumstances." The court goes on to say, "If no permanent injury has been inflicted, nor malice, cruelty nor dangerous violence shown by the husband, it is better to draw the curtain, shut out the public gaze and leave the parties to forget and forgive."

Opening its doors, the Athens Lunatic Asylum welcomed its first patient in 1874. This state-of-the-art mental hospital was based on the design of renowned architect Thomas Kirkbride and embraced the current societal trends toward institutionalizing the insane. The hospital began as a type of long- term care for those not easily accepted or able to function in society. The typical meaning of “asylum” at the time was a safe haven with little likelihood of departure. 

“Ten Years and Ten Months in Lunatic Asylums in Different States.” Hoosick Falls: The Author, Swan, Moses

ile:McCormack-MaryEllen 001a.jpg

Mary Ellen Wilson (1864–1956) or sometimes Mary Ellen McCormack was an American whose case of child abuse led to the creation of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. As an eight-year old, she was severely abused by her stepparents, Francis and Mary Connolly. Mary Ellen was born to Francis and Thomas Wilson of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. Upon Thomas's death, Francis had to take a job and was no longer able to stay at home to raise her infant daughter. She boarded her daughter with a woman named Mary Score, a common practice at the time. When Francis Wilson's financial situation worsened, she began to miss her visitation dates with her daughter and was no longer able to make child care payments to Score. Score turned Mary Ellen, now almost two, into the New York City Department of Charities. The Department placed Mary Ellen under the care of Mary Connolly and Thomas McCormack. According to Mary Connolly's court testimony, Thomas McCormack, Mary Connolly's first husband, claimed to be Mary Ellen Wilson's biological father. The Department of Charities placed Mary Ellen into the McCormacks' care illegally, without the proper papers or receipts served. Thomas McCormack signed an "indenture" agreement upon retrieving Mary Ellen from the Department of Charities' care, but did not explain his or his wife's relationship with the child to Commissioner of Charities and Correction. The McCormacks were required to report the child's condition annually to the Department, but, according to Mary Connolly's later court testimony, this only occurred once or twice during Mary Ellen's stay. Mary Ellen Wilson was not allowed to go outside, except at night in her own yard, and was regularly beaten by her adopted parents. Police rescue the eight year old after the head of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calls them on Mary Ellen's behalf. Mrs. Connelly was sentenced to jail for one year. That year the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was founded, the first organization of its kind. Shortly after Mary Ellen came into the McCormacks' care, Thomas McCormack died. Mary McCormack married Francis Connolly, moving together with Mary Ellen to an apartment on West 41st Street. It was at this address that neighbors first became aware of young Mary Ellen's mistreatment. When the Connollys moved to a new address, one of the concerned neighbors from their 41st Street apartment asked Etta Angell Wheeler, a Methodist missionary who worked in the area, to check in on the child. Wheeler, under the pretext of asking Mrs. Connolly's help in caring for Connolly's new neighbor, the chronically ill and home-bound Mary Smitt, gained access to the Connollys' apartment to see Mary Ellen's state for herself. When Ms. Wheeler saw evidence of physical abuse, malnourishment, and neglect in Mary Ellen's condition, Wheeler began to research legal options to redress and protect the young girl. After finding the local authorities reluctant to act upon the child cruelty laws currently in place, Wheeler turned to a local advocate for the animal humane movement and the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Henry Bergh. With the help of neighbors' testimony, Wheeler and Burgh successfully removed Mary Ellen from the Connolly home and took Mary Connolly to trial. Elbridge Thomas Gerry of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took her case to the New York State Supreme Court in 1874. She was now 10 years old. The deliberate cruelties and deprivations inflicted on Mary Ellen Wilson by her adopted parents included the following: regular and severe beatings; insufficient food; being forced to sleep on the floor; having no warm clothes to wear in cold weather; being frequently left alone inside a darkened, locked room; being forbidden to go outdoors, except at night in her own yard. The child testified in court regarding the abuse she had suffered, and afterward – on April 10, 1874 – she said: “My father and mother are both dead. I don’t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys. Mamma has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a raw hide. The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma's lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped. I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me. I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so. I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life.” Mrs. Connolly was sentenced to jail for one year. That year the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was founded, the first organization of its kind. In 1888 at age 24, Mary Ellen married Louis Schutt. They had two children together. Schutt had three children from his previous marriage, and they later adopted an orphaned girl. Mary Ellen died in 1956, at 92. Mary Ellen’s case history is considered crucial to the beginnings of Social Work as a profession.

In England, College for Working Women opened in Fitzroy St, London.

In England, Emma Paterson published a series of articles about sweated female labour and called a conference to discuss the problem.

In England, Emma Paterson formed the Women's Protective and Provident League.

In England, Emma Paterson formed the Society of Women Employed in Bookbinding with 300 members.

In England, London School of Medicine for Women founded.

In England, Protection Orders granted to wives in Scotland.

In England, Women's Peace and Arbitration Auxiliary of the London Peace Society formed.

In England, Dr Henry Maudsley published Sex and Mind in Education.

In England, Dr Elizabeth Garrett Anderson published Sex and Mind in Education: A Reply.


New York State grants per capita subsidies to the New York Catholic Protectory for the care of children who would otherwise be public charges.


The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is incorporated. The "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children" was formed.


William Pryor Letchworth (May 26, 1823 – December 1, 1910) was an American businessman notable for his charitable work. In 1873, he accepted an appointment to the New York State Board of Charities. "In 1875 he had inspected all the orphan asylums, poor-houses, city alms houses, and juvenile reformatories in the state which had an aggregate population of 17,791 children." The result of his investigation was a successful recommendation to remove all children under 2 years of age from these institutions. In 1878, Letchworth was elected to President of the Board. Letchworth resigned from the State Board of Charities in 1897. He then spent the next few years traveling around Europe and the United States at his own expense to explore the plight of the insane, epileptics and poor children. From this research he wrote two books entitled "The Insane in Foreign Countries" and "Care and Treatment of Epileptics". Many of his methods would later be used by Craig Colony, a State epileptic hospital he helped to establish in Western New York in 1896. His charity work was extended as he served as President for the National Association for the Study of Epilepsy and the Care of Treatment of Epilepsy, and as President of the First New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections, as well as President of the National Conference of Charities and Correction held in St. Louis in 1884.

The American Neurological Association was established by eighteen physicians at a meeting in New York City in 1875 and the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases was designated as their official organ in the following year.

                                                               Eastern Asylum for the Colored Insane, Goldsboro, North Carolina, 1875

North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $10,000 to build a “colored insane asylum”

Michigan and Minnesota women win the right to vote in school elections.

In England, Ernest Eiloart published The Laws Relating to Women.

In England, Emma Paterson formed the Society of Dressmakers, Milliners and Mantlemakers.

In England, Albermarle Club opened. Admits ladies and gentlemen.

In England, Amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act raised the age of consent to 13.

In England, Employment of Women Office opened in Brighton.

In England, First female clerks employed by Post Office Savings Bank.

In England, First woman elected as Poor Law Guardian (Martha Merrington, South Kensington.)

In England, First woman lawyer's office opened in London by Miss Orme.

In England, Madras Medical School opened to women.

In England, Metropolitan and National Nursing Association formed.

In England, Newnham College for Ladies opened at Cambridge.

In England, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland opened its exams to women.

In England, Women delegates admitted to the Trades' Congress in Glasgow.


The New York State Reformatory at Elmira is founded; it is a model penal institution for children. Zebulon K. Brockway, a noted corrections reformer and founder of the National Prison Association, is appointed as the first warden.


The American Association for the Study of the Feeble-Minded is organized. (The name is changed to the American Association on Mental Deficiency in 1933 and to the American Association on Mental Retardation in 1987)

Alexander Bell got patent for his telephone invention; exhibited it at Philadelphia Exposition that summer.

“A Mad World and Its Inhabitants.” New York: Appleton by Chambers, Julius

“Lunatic Asylums: and How I Became an Inmate of One.” Chicago: Ottaway and Colbert, Metcalf, Ada.

Working Men's Party proposes banning the employment of children under the age of 14.

In England, British Women's Temperance Association founded.

In England, Emma Paterson formed the Society of Upholsteresses (survived till 1894).

In England, Employment for Women office opened in Glasgow.

In England, First woman pharmacist in London, Miss Isabella Clarke.

In England, King and Queen's College of Physicians, Ireland, confers medical degrees on women.

In England, Manchester New College admits women.

In England, St Andrews University instituted a Diploma for Women, the L.L.A.

In England, Plan-tracing office for women opened by Miss Crosbie.

In England, Russell-Gurney's Act enabled universities to admit women to degrees.

In England, Scholarships for women established at Bristol University College.


The first Charity Organization Society is founded in December in Buffalo by the Reverend S. Humphreys Gurteen. The society operates on four principles: (1) detailed investigation of applicants, (2) a central system of registration to avoid duplication, (3) cooperation between the various relief agencies, and (4) extensive use of the volunteers in the role of "friendly visitors."

The roots of the Take Back the Night rallies were started by women to protest the fear and violence they felt from what was being done to them, the women held a candle and walked through the streets singing.

“Am I a Lunatic? Or, Dr. Henry T. Helmbold's Exposure of his Personal Experience in the Lunatic Asylums of Europe and America.” New York: Helmbold, Henry

Formation of the American Humane Association for the protection of children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect. The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and several Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals across the U.S. joined together to form the American Humane Association.

In England, Manchester and Salford College for women founded.

In England, Royal Free Hospital admits women as medical students.

In England, School Board elections return many women candidates.

In England, Teachers Training and Registration Society formed.

In England, The first five women passed their medical degree examinations at King and Queen's College of Physicians, Ireland.

In England, Trinity College, London, opens musical exams to women.

In England, University of St Andrews admits women to its Literate in Arts degree.

In England, Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1857 for publishing Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy, a work on birth control . They were convicted but acquitted on appeal, the subsequent publicity resulting in a decline in the birth rate. Mrs Besant later published The Law of Population.

In England, Women's deputation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in support of the Women's Disabilities Removal Bill (that would give women the vote).


G. Stanley Hall received the first American Ph.D. in psychology. He later founded the American Psychological Association.

“The History of My Orphanage, or the Outpourings of an Alleged Lunatic.” London by Georgina Weldon. 

Joel W. Smith presents his Modified Braille to the American Association of Instructors of the Blind. The association rejects his system, continuing to endorse instead New York Point, which blind readers complain is more difficult to read and write. What follows is a “War of the Dots” in which blind advocates for the most part prefer Modified Braille, while sighted teachers and administrators, who control funds for transcribing, prefer New York Point. It was the first time the users of disability services wanted some thing different from the service providers and got together on it.

“The Mystic Key; or The Asylum Secret Unlocked.”  Hartford: Author, Packard, Elizabeth Parsons Ware.

A federal amendment to grant women the right to vote is introduced for the first time by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California.

The first International Woman's Rights Congress is held in Paris, France.

Francis Power Cobbe publishes Wife Torture in England. She denounces the treatment of wives in Liverpool's "Kicking District." She documents 6,000 of the most brutal assaults on women over a 3-year period who had been maimed, blinded, trampled, burned and murdered. Cobbe presents a theory that abuse continues because of the belief that a man's wife is his property. Her concerns are moved forward by male parliamentarians and the Matrimonial Causes Act is passed. The Act allows victims of violence to obtain a legal separation from the husband; entitles them custody of the children; and to retain earnings and property secured during the separation. Such a separation order can only be obtained if the husband has been convicted of aggravated assault and the court considers her in grave danger. 

In England, Miss Eleanor Ormerod became the first woman elected to membership of the Meteorological Society.

In England, Surgical registrar Miss Louisa Aldrich Blake became the first woman to be awarded the degree of diploma of M.S. Lond.

In England, Married Women's Property Law amended in Scotland.

In England, W. Gregory Walker published The Married Women's Property Acts, their relation to the Doctrine of Separate Uses.

In England, Frances Power Cobbe published Wife Torture in England, a tract about domestic violence .

In England, Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act helped battered wives by allowing a judicial separation, maintenance payments and children to remain with the mother.

In England, London University became the first to grant degrees and full membership to women.


Wilhelm Wundt established the first formal psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany, marking the formal beginning of the study of human emotions, behaviors, and cognitions, and where he introduced a scientific approach to psychology and performed many experiments to measure peoples' reaction time. This event is considered the birth of psychology. Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt (16 August 1832 – 31 August 1920) was a German physician, psychologist, physiologist, philosopher, and professor, known today as one of the founding figures of modern psychology. As a matter of fact, Wundt, who noted psychology as a science apart from biology and philosophy, was the first person to ever call himself a Psychologist. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology". In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research at the University of Leipzig. This marked psychology as an independent field of study. By creating this laboratory he was able to explore the nature of religious beliefs, identify mental disorders and abnormal behavior, and find damaged parts of the brain. In doing so, he was able to establish psychology as a separate science from other topics. He also formed the first journal for psychological research in 1881. Wundt applied himself to writing a work that came to be one of the most important in the history of psychology, Principles of Physiological Psychology in 1874. This was the first textbook that was written pertaining to the field of psychology. Wundt claimed that the book was "an attempt to mark out [psychology] as a new domain of science.” The Principles utilized a system of psychology that sought to investigate the immediate experiences of consciousness, including feelings, emotions, volitions and ideas, mainly explored through Wundt's system of "internal perception", or the self-examination of conscious experience by objective observation of one's consciousness.

Francis Galton utilizes the method of word association.

Franklin B. Sanborn, chair of the Massachusetts State Board of Charities, advocates use of foster homes for delinquent and dependent children.


The Conference of Boards of Public Charities is renamed the National Conference of Charities and Correction in the first session, independent of the American Social Science Association (1865).

Lightner Witmer uses for the first time the term clinical psychology.

“A Sketch of Psychiatry in Southern States.” Presidential Address, American Medico-Psychological Association.Baltimore. Powell,T.O.

“Behind the Scenes; Or, Life in an Insane Asylum.” Chicago: Culver. Smith, Lydia Adeline Jackson Button; Hoyne and Co.

icehurst from South Easticehurst from South Easticehurst from South East

“I was therefore ‘removed,’ half-dying, in a state of semi-consciousness, I can scarcely remember how, to the castellated mansion mentioned in my first chapter. The wrong should have been impossible, of course; but it is possible, and it is law. My liberty, and my very existence as an individual being, had been signed away behind my back. In my weakened perceptions I at first thought that the mansion was an hotel. Left alone in a big room on the first evening, I was puzzled by the entrance of a wild-looking man, who described figures in the air with his hand, to an accompaniment of gibber, ate a pudding with his fingers at the other end of a long table, and retired. My nerve was shaken to its weakest, remember; and I was alone with him! It was not an hotel. It was a lunatic asylum.” Thus the barrister and author Herman Charles Merivale (1839-1906) recounted his first evening in the lunatic asylum that was to be his home for several months in 1875, in My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum, by a Sane Patient, published in 1879. The “castellated mansion” of Merivale’s nightmarish recollection was Ticehurst House, an 18th-century pile in the depths of the Weald of Sussex, that had by Merivale’s day been in operation for about eighty years as a private madhouse run by a local family of medical practitioners, the Newingtons. Merivale was admitted to the asylum on 23 February 1875 and from that date until his release there are regular bulletins from the superintending physician on his mental state, attitude to the staff, sleeping habits, drug treatment, food intake, bowel movements, trips into the country, and a host of other indications of his progress, at first on a daily basis and gradually reducing to an intermittent, perfunctory note. On release on 8 September he is described as ‘relieved’, although there is little evidence in the clinical notes of the previous six months of any improvement in his condition, beyond his eventual agreement to attend church. Sure enough, Merivale was back in Ticehurst within a year and unsurprisingly described as ‘never thoroughly cured’. His situation had apparently taken a turn for the worse: he was now not only suicidal but a danger to others, having attempted to strangle his companion. His notes conclude with a copy of a letter to the Commissioners of Lunacy from Dr Newington advising against Merivale’s transfer out of the asylum to ‘single care’, in other words care at home, in view of his violent tendencies. This recommendation was evidently ignored as Merivale was transferred out on 9 March 1877, ‘not improved’. Merivale’s book gives a rare personal account of the asylum experience. For most of the thousand patients treated at Ticehurst, there is no patient’s voice to set against the institutional record, but there are occasional glimpses into their world in the written ramblings or disturbing sketches that were included in the casebooks as evidence of their mental condition.

In England, Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville opened in Oxford.

In England, London School Board elects nine women.

In England, Pharmaceutical Society admits women as members.


The issue of housing Black and white mental patients in the same facility was a struggle in both Northern and Southern States since many leading mental health experts felt that it undermined the mental health of white patients to be housed with African-Americans. The distress of having Blacks and white patients in close proximity to one another was balanced by the unwillingness to fund segregated facilities for black patients. In March 1875, the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $10,000 to build a colored insane asylum. The Eastern Asylum for the Colored Insane was opened in 1880 with accommodations for four hundred and twenty patients. The facility at Goldsboro underwent several name changes throughout its history and remains in operation as a psychiatric facility

Seven categories of mental illness used for U.S. census data: mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania, epilepsy. The 1880 census of mentally ill persons, the most complete survey ever carried out in the United States, identified 40,942 “insane persons” in “hospitals and asylums for the insane.” It also reported finding only 397 “insane persons” in jails and prisons, constituting less than 1 percent (0.7 percent) of the jail and prison population.

By 1880 a coalition of neurologists, charity reformers and a few reform minded asylum superintendents were ready to form the National Association for the Protection of the Insane and the Prevention of Insanity (N.A.P.I.P.I.). Dedicated (in George Miller Beard's words) to "obtaining universal recognition of the fact that it is no disgrace to be crazy," this organization provided a forum for neurologists to continue their attack on the management of American asylums. They pointed to the growing isolation of asylum superintendents from new developments in medicine, the seemingly excessive preoccupation of the superintendents with the physical plants of their asylums, the superintendents' lack of scientific training and the paucity of scientific research done in asylums. They also joined with English psychiatrists in complaining about the use of mechanical restraints on insane patients in the United States.

The Salvation Army is founded in the United Statei after William Booth established it in London in 1878.

The International Congress of Educators of the Deaf, at a conference in Milan, Italy, calls for the suppression of sign languages and the firing of all deaf teachers at schools for the deaf. This triumph of oralism is seen by deaf advocates as a direct attack upon their culture.

The National Convention of Deaf Mutes meets in Cincinnati, Ohio, the nucleus of what will become the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). The first major issue taken on by the NAD is oralism and the suppression of American Sign Language.

“A Blighted Life: A True Story.” (orig. pub. 1880; reprinted, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1996) by Bulwer Rosina Lytton.

In England, following campaigning by the National Education League the Elementary Education Act 1880 made schooling compulsory until the age of ten and also established attendance officers to enforce attendance, so that parents who objected to compulsory education, arguing they needed children to earn a wage, could be fined for keeping their children out of school. School leaving age was raised with successive Acts from ten to age fourteen in 1918.

In England, the law is changed to allow a wife who had been habitually beaten by her husband to the point of "endangering her life" to separate from him, but cannot divorce him. 

In England, Bill giving greater protection to little girls under 13

In England, Burials Bill gives women the right to conduct funeral services.

In England, Charter of Royal University of Ireland admits women as members.

In England, First suffrage demonstration, in Manchester. Followed by demos in other towns.

In England, First three women to graduate in Britain were Elizabeth Creak, Marianne Andrews and Elizabeth Hills.

In England, Mason College founded in Birmingham.

In England, Mrs James Brander appointed Inspector of Schools in Madras.


At the 40th anniversary of the Medico-Psychological Association at University College, Daniel Hake Tuke, the president, paid respect to Dorthea Dix, 'who has a claim to the gratitude of mankind for having consecrated the best years of her life to the fearless advocacy of the cause of the insane.’

Clara Barton organizes the American Association of the Red Cross, which is renamed the American National Red Cross in 1893 and the American Red Cross in 1978.


Booker T Washington founds the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, a leading black educational institution that emphasizes industrial training as a means to self-respect and economic independence for African Americans.

Howe Press is established to emboss books, first in Boston Line Type and later in Braille, a new technology created by Louis Braille to help people who are blind read and write.

[In cases of enuresis, or bedwetting] I apply usually [in the region of the boy’s sexual organ] a tolerably strong current for one to two minutes; at the close, a wire electrode is introduced about two centimeters into the urethra — in girls I apply “small” sponge electrode between the labia close to the meatus urethrae — and the faradic current passed for one to two minutes with such a strength that a distinct, somewhat painful sensation is produced. WILHELM ERB (German physician), Handbook of Electrotherapy, 1881,

The first National Convention of the American Federation of Labor passes a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment.

In England, Cambridge University admits women to Tripos Examinations.

In England, Civil Service appoints female clerks by open competition.

In England, Durham University votes to admit women.

In England, Isle of Man gives the vote to 700 women property owners

In England, Married Women's Property Act for Scotland.

In England, Poor Law Guardians Association for Promoting the Return of ladies founded; seven ladies elected in London.


Maryland is the first state to pass a law that makes wife-beating a crime, punishable by 40 lashes, or a year in jail. 

Francis Galton in England established an anthropometric lab for the statistical analysis of differences among people.

“An Insight into an Insane Asylum.” Louisville, KY: The Author, Camp, Joseph.

“How I Escaped the Mad Doctors.” London by Georgina Weldon.

Due to subversion by the liquor industry, the suffragists lose electoral battles in Nebraska and Indiana.

In England, Married Women's Property Act passed. No difference between femme sole and femme couverte. A married woman having separate property was liable for the support of her parents, husband, children and grandchildren becoming chargeable to any union or parish.

In England, Municipal Franchise Act for Scotland allows women to vote in local elections .

In England, Florence Pomeroy, Viscountess Harberton, president of the Rational Dress movement, introduced her invention of the divided skirt to the Natioanl Health Society.


Sir Francis Galton in England coins the term eugenics, in his book “Essays in Eugenics,” to describe his pseudo-science of “improving the stock” of humanity. Galton speculated, “The question was then forced upon me – Could not the race of men be similarly improved? Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?” Sir Frances Galton’s Pseudo scientific theory was to improve the stock of people by preventing people with disabilities, people of color, Catholics, Jews, poor people, and other undesirables from having children. These people were refused by law to marry, they were sterilized against their will including children. The eugenics movement, taken up by Americans, leads to passage in the United States of laws to prevent people with various disabilities from moving to this country, marrying, or having children. In many instances, it leads to the institutionalization and forced sterilization of people with disabilities or poor people, including children. Eugenics campaigns against people of color and immigrants led to passage of “Jim Crow” laws in the South and legislation restricting immigration by southern and eastern Europeans, Asians, Africans, and Jews. The U.S. eugenics movement was a key inspiration for Nazi Germany's similar programs to segregate and sterilize mentally disabled people, and German scientists even traveled to California to study our program of forced sterilization.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky, (26 March 1838–22 October 1903), an Irish historian (father of positive atheism) said, "Once a system of reward and punishment is set up and widely broadcast rulers will never be seriously questioned".

Emil Kraepelin (circa 1886)

Mental illness is studied more scientifically as German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin distinguishes mental disorders. Kraepelin is sometimes referred to as the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, as well as of psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. Kraepelin believed the chief origin of psychiatric disease to be biological and genetic malfunction. Though subsequent research will disprove some of his findings, his fundamental distinction between manic-depressive psychosis and schizophrenia holds to this day. Kraepelin's major work, "Compendium der Psychiatrie", was first published in 1883. In it, he argued that psychiatry was a branch of medical science and should be investigated by observation and experimentation like the other natural sciences. He called for research into the physical causes of mental illness, and started to establish the foundations of the modern classification system for mental disorders. Kraepelin proposed that by studying case histories and identifying specific disorders, the progression of mental illness could be predicted, after taking into account individual differences in personality and patient age at the onset of disease. Kraepelin spoke out against the barbarous treatment that was prevalent in the psychiatric asylums of the time, and crusaded against alcohol, capital punishment and the imprisonment rather than treatment of the insane. Kraepelin postulated that there is a specific brain or other biological pathology underlying each of the major psychiatric disorders. As a colleague of Alois Alzheimer, and co-discoverer of Alzheimer's disease, it was his laboratory which discovered its pathologic basis. Kraepelin was confident that it would someday be possible to identify the pathologic basis of each of the major psychiatric disorders. Upon moving to become Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Munich in 1903, Kraepelin increasingly wrote on social policy issues. He was a strong and influential proponent of eugenics and racial hygiene. His publications included a focus on alcoholism, crime, degeneration and hysteria. He was concerned to preserve and enhance the German people, the Volk, in the sense of nation or race. He appears to have held Lamarckian concepts of evolution, such that cultural deterioration could be inherited. He was a strong ally and promoter of the work of fellow psychiatrist Ernst Rudin to clarify the mechanisms of genetic inheritance as to make a so-called 'empirical genetic prognosis'. Martin Brune has pointed out that Kraepelin and Rudin also appear to have been ardent advocates of a self-domestication theory, a version of social darwinism which held that modern culture was not allowing people to be weeded out, resulting in more mental disorder and deterioration of the gene pool. Kraepelin saw a number of 'symptoms' of this, such as "weakening of viability and resistance, decreasing fertility, proletarianisation, and moral damage due to 'penning up people' [original 'Zusammenpferchung']". He also wrote that "the number of idiots, epileptics, psychopaths, criminals, prostitutes, and tramps who descend from alcoholic and syphilitic parents, and who transfer their inferiority to their offspring, is incalculable." He felt that "the well-known example of the Jews, with their strong disposition towards nervous and mental disorders, teaches us that their extraordinarily advanced domestication may eventually imprint clear marks on the race". Brune states that Kraepelin's nosological system was 'to a great deal, built on the degeneration paradigm'.

"For fourteen years I have lived under an incarceration that cut me off from the real world, took away my civil rights, deprived me of my name, took away everything I owned, destroyed my entire existence without even being able to say why." --Hersilie Rouy, circa 1865. Rouy was a psychiatric inmate-- aka "patient"-- during the mid 1800s in France. She documented her experiences in a memoir, 'Mémoires d'une aliénée', published in 1883.

The first laboratory of psychology in America is established at Johns Hopkins University.

Phenothiazines developed as synthetic dyes.

The Federal Civil Service Commission is established.

 “A Checkered Life.” Chicago: S. P. Rounds by Joyce, John A.

“The Bastilles of England; or The Lunacy Laws at Work.” London by Louisa Lowe.

“The Memorial Scrapbook; A Combination of Precedents.” Boston: Pennell, Lemira Clarissa.

Samuel Gompers leads the New York Labor Movement targets the end of child labor in cigar making by succe