Psychiatry has come a long way since the days when patients were shunned from society and shackled in loony bins. Psychiatrists of yore experimented with numerous techniques for treating mental disorders – some that paved the way for psychiatry and are even used today. But quite a few others would raise eyebrows today and make modern-day ethicists squirm.
There are still many unanswered questions, and too many seemingly insurmountable medical challenges for comfort, but at least science tries to point toward answers.
In decades and centuries past, illnesses, both physical and mental were often treated with ineffective, inhumane, and often destructive ways in old insane asylums. People with psychological conditions, especially, tended to be viewed as subhuman. These unfortunate souls were born in the wrong era, and their stories are heartbreaking.
1. A “Lunatics Chair” given to patients who had poor behavior or wild outbursts in a Dutch mental hospital in 1938.
2. Patients receive treatment while restrained in a steam box in Milledgeville State Hospital in Georgia, US in 1908.
3. A patient in a restraining chair at the West Riding Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England in 1869.
4. A nurse prepares a patient for electro-shock therapy in Central State Hospital in Kentucky, US in 1951.
5. Mental patients participating in Dance Therapy in New York State Asylum, U.S in 1922.