Wealthy Families

Wealthy Families in the Renaissance

Wealthy families in the Renaissance had a boost above the general population in terms of caring for family members that were mentally ill.  Because wealthy families had a supply of money, they were able to hire a general physician to come to their home and look after their inflicted family member(s).  The physician would either stay at the house for periods of time during the day, or provided the family with care instructions if he could not be present for long periods of time (Dickinson, 1990).

Many wealthy families paid for doctors to make housecalls to treat their mentally ill family members.

There was one problem with the hiring of physicians: most of them had never dealt with specific mental illnesses before and therefore did not know how to treat them.  Traditional treatments of the humors were often used as physicians could think of no other treatment pattern.  The traditional humor treatments included purges, emetics, and bleeding in order to balance the bodily humors (Dickinson, 1990).

If the family no longer wished to have their loved one at home any longer, they were able to send them away to private homes to be cared for instead of admitting them into an institution.  Unfortunately, however, these private homes were often set up purely for profit and did not provide much healing or treatment to the mentally ill (Dickinson, 1990).


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.

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