19th Century

The 19th Century was characterized by the integration of asylums in order to treat the mentally ill.  Public and private asylums were popular in both the United States and in Europe.  The most famous is the York Retreat created by Quakers at the very end of the 1700s in England.  Asylums were extremely beneficial to the community, but only if they were run accordingly.  Once overcrowding began, asylums developed a negative connotation and no longer represented the great place they once were for healing (Whitaker, 2009).

The New York State Asylum for the Insane

The definition of insanity was also broadened in the 19th century; it came to include those in the family who were unable to help the family in terms of survival and drained their family’s money and resources, the aged, the epileptic, and the imbecilic.  Because of this new definition, asylums soon became crowded with the influx of people whose families could not afford to take care of them, but had no real mental illness (Dickinson, 1990).


Once asylums became overcrowded, they transformed from a place of recovery and happiness to place of torture and inhumanity.

(Airaysa, 2008)


Airaysa (2008, November 24) Psychology exposed. History of practices in Psychology [Video File]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjR6xcrD5SM&feature=player_embedded

Dickinson, E. (1990). From madness to mental health: A brief history of psychiatric treatments in the UK from 1800 to the present. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 419-424.

Whitaker, R. (2009). Deinstitutionalization and neuroleptics. In Y. O. Alanen, G. dC. Manuel, A. S. Silver, & B. Martindale (Eds.) Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Schizophrenia Psychoses: Past, Present, and Future, (pp. 346-356). New York, NY, US: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.

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