Blog Posts - Medical History



Stigma Attached to the Insane

Most people would not be ashamed of breaking a leg or falling ill with the flu, and their family members likewise would not mind the world knowing about either condition. However, the same kind of acceptance has rarely applied to mental afflictions.

Some Things You Need To Know Touching Life Insurance

The primary reason for purchasing life insurance is for the care it provides your family members should you pass away. Read the following article and see what it has to offer for solid advice to find the outstanding global life insurance policy. Figu...
by Finmage on Sep 8, 2013

Cultural Considerations

One of the worst problems for patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians was the lack of cultural sensitivity on the part of the institution’s staff (and throughout the Bureau of Indian Affairs). No greater contrast to the BIA’s han...

Worlds Apart

Though insanity was rare, Native Americans did sometimes have to deal with tribal members they deemed insane. Their methods were less harsh than European ones (see last post) and Native Americans often tried to cure insanity rather than settle for th...

Medical Attitudes

Once asylum superintendents gained a measure of respect and prestige (see last post), they used their power to secure their positions within both the medical community and their own specialty. They wanted no meddling or advice from outsiders–es...

The Superiority of Superintendents

In the early 1800s, physicians were not particularly respected by the public. The educational requirements to become a doctor were minimal and no licensing was required; any ambitious young man could apprentice under a doctor for a couple of years or...

Preparing For College – Know Your Medical History

As we reach that time of year again, parents, students and teachers prepare for the back to school season. Nationwide, by early September, nearly 21 [...]...
by How To Learn on Aug 18, 2013

Cheap Life Insurance 101: What You Should Know Before You Buy

The clues offered in this article will aid you select the outstanding senior life insurance package for your needs. The policy must be able to cover your final expenses, such as your mortgage, loans, and your children’s educational expenses. Co...
by Finmage on Aug 14, 2013

Two Causes of Insanity

In ancient times, insanity was seen as a result of spiritual forces working against an individual. A god or demon could either inhabit a body and manifest in some way, or merely cause problems for the victim via spiritual power. Sometimes manifestati...

Coming Full Circle

Treatment for insanity remained surprisingly consistent in many ways over hundreds of years (see last post). One great stride in treating the insane came when authorities stopped lumping “lunatics” in with criminals and the poor, either i...

Treatments of Long Standing

Treatments for insanity were surprisingly consistent until the modern era. Bleeding, purging, forced vomiting, and other physical remedies were go-to procedures until the early 1800s. Purging (causing the bowels to evacuate) and vomiting continued in...

A Few Protections

Americans were guided in their treatment of the insane by English law and tradition, which recognized that certain segments of the population had special needs. Children, idiots and lunatics “were siblings in the eyes of the law” says aut...

An Important Alienist

Alienists became more important as experts to draw on after psychiatry became more established. Dr. William A. White, for many years the superintendent of the federal government’s first hospital for the insane, St. Elizabeths, was an especially...

Insanity Defense Becomes More Common

Though President Garfield’s assassin, Guiteau, did not save his life based on an insanity defense, the plea became more common. (See last post.) In 1924, Dr. William A. White, superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital for the Insane, testified...

Alienists Gain Prominence

Charles Julius Guiteau shot President James Garfield at the Pennsylvania railroad station in Washington, DC on July 2, 1881. He did not try to escape and was apprehended on the spot; when the president died twelve weeks later, Guiteau went on trial f...

Insanity is Rare

Field researchers found that insanity among Native Americans was rare (see last post) and this finding was backed up by many individual observations over time. In An Account of the History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations written in 1819,...

The Question of Insane Indians

Many early explorers had observed that the Native American population held few insane members. Most of these observations were based on personal experience by individuals, but the federal government eventually made the same observation. In a bulletin...

The Government’s Mental Hospitals

When Dr. John Grimes inspected mental institutions in the U.S. (see last two posts), he found that VA hospitals tended to be pleasant, well-run establishments. In Washington, DC, St. Elizabeths was overcrowded, with a rated capacity of 3,700 patients...

Small Hospitals Not Always at a Disadvantage

One reason that Dr. Hummer pinched pennies at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians was because his per capita costs were so high. Most experts at the time felt that no asylum with fewer than 500 patients could be run efficiently, and Hummer didn̵...

Unflattering Views on Mental Health Care

Over a two year period beginning in 1931, Dr. John Maurice Grimes inspected all U.S. institutions caring for the mentally ill. This was done at the request of the American Medical Association. Grimes’ report was so unflattering that he ended up...


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