Rights of the Mentally Ill

By: Heather Marion

Prehistoric times:
• Mental illnesses were assumed to be caused by magical spirits that interfered with the mind • Rituals were used to coax the spirits out: exorcism, trephination Trephination tool: Skull after ritual:

Col oni al Am eri can soci ety :
• Referred to the mentally ill as “lunatics” • Removed from society • Horrible medical practices-ice bath, shocks to their brain, bleeding

Preparing for shock treatment:

Empty room for bleeding practice:

“Age of Restraint”: 1770-1830

During this time, the onset of mental illness was thought to be the fault of the individual
Treatments were purposefully unpleasant and distressing Since the patient was isolated from society and deemed unable to think clearly for themselves, they were given no rights Daily life: Rooms like cells, barred windows, locked doors, and chains on the walls Treatments: Restraints, cold bath plunges, cupping glasses, Centrifuge therapy

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Centrifuge therapy


Tranquilizing Chair

reatments during “Age of Restraint”)

Moral Management Era: mid 18th century • Kindness and morality • Reforms to protect the mentally ill begin…mostly led by Dorothy Dix
Dorothy Dix: -saw first hand how the mentally ill were treated and dedicated her life to fight for better conditions - traveled from state to state to campaign - result: better, state-run hospitals built • new found belief that environment played a crucial role in curing the mentally ill = better conditions BUT…

Moral Management Era cont…

• Civil War changes everything…thousands of soldiers come home
with mental illnesses (now known as PTSD)

• They are emotionally and socially ill and are sent to stay in the
mental hospitals…overcrowding is at times worse than before

• The mental hospitals are forced to resort to the old ways.. Restraints
and shock therapy are two of the first procedures to resurface. -In order to compensate for the wave of soldiers, asylums begin to open all over the country

Huge decline in patient care….no more individual rooms, locked and stacked cribs

The lobotomy was first introduced in the early 1930s. Later the trans-orbital lobotomy was used which was faster and required less patient care but was also much more deadly

Dei nstituti onal izati on
 1954, the anti-psychotic drug Thorazine began to be used
-shortens time of stay in mental institutions -leads to better treatments

The term used to describe mental patients moving out of the institutions and into the community is called deinstitutionalization.

Positive aspects = outpatient services, single day/night hospitalization, diagnostic services, more extensive research and training. Negative aspects = mentally ill were released to families, individuals pushed out of institutions that shouldn’t have been

Community Mental Health Centers Act

In 1963, John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Act into law. The law insisted on a national system of care to adequately meet the needs of mentally ill individuals Step in the right direction but… the act did not cover the needs of ALL mental patients since it offered psychotherapy to only non-chronic sufferers. Those who need help the most (the severely mentally ill) were overlooked

Willowbrook Institution
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State-run institution on Staten Island, NYC The problems there were brought to the public’s attention by investigative reporter Geraldo Rivera in 1972

HORRIBLE conditions… -Overcrowding -Poor living conditions -Poor health

Video of former Willowbrook resident

esult: The signing of a consent judgment in Federal Court in 1975

Ref or m Law s to pr otect the ri ghts of the mental l y i ll
 In 1977, President Jimmy Carter created the President’s Commission on Mental Health  Held meetings to discuss how to help the mentally ill  Led to the establishment of the Mental Health Systems Act in 1980  Also in 1980, the rights of the mentally ill were again brought into focus with the passing of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

Happy ending?
Society is finally beginning to understand that mental illnesses can be adequately dealt with and that those with illnesses can be a fully functioning part of our society. People no longer see mental illness as a character flaw or personal failing. There are many professionals, legislators, and advocates, who are helping spread the word that people with mental illnesses should have the same treatment, independence, and freedom that each of us deserve.

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