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Friday, 6 May 2016

Mental Hospital

The first hospital for the mentally ill was built by the Muslims in Baghdad in 705 AD, under the leadership of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik.

London's Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as St Mary Bethlehem, was founded in 1247, during the reign of Henry III, as the Priory of the New Order of St Mary of Bethlem. By 1377, the priory had become one of the institutions in Europe to look after the mentally ill, or, as they are referred to at the time, "the distracted".

Plan of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, an early public asylum for the mentally ill.

The Dissolution of the monasteries was an event that happened in England from 1536 to 1540, when King Henry VIII took away the land and money that the nuns and monks of the Roman Catholic church owned  Bethlem Royal Hospital was closed down as a priory and secularized, coming under the control of the city of London exclusively as an asylum for the insane.

Bethlem Royal Hospital became a tourist attraction, where sightseers paying an entrance fee of twopence each, could amuse themselves at the patients' antics. Often the patients were teased and provoked by the general public into a raving frenzy.

From the fourteenth century, Bethlem had been referred to colloquially as "Bedlam." The word "bedlam", meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital's nickname. Although the Bethlem Royal Hospital became a modern psychiatric facility, historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform.

By the mid eighteenth century a number specialist institutions to cater for the mentally ill were built. In London for instance St Luke's Hospital opened in London in 1751, making it at that time the only large public lunatic asylum apart from Bedlam.

America's first mental asylum opened for 'Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds' on October 12, 1773. Eastern State Hospital, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, was the first public facility in the United States constructed solely for the care and treatment of the mentally ill.

The Hospital's rebuilt original 1773 building as it stands today in Williamsburg, Virginia

A Quaker tea and coffee merchant William Tuke founded in York in 1796 the York Retreat, which was a home for the insane. He pioneered new methods of treatment and care for the mentally ill and utilized "moral therapy" concentrating on the mind. The York Retreat was the first of its kind in England.

The York Retreat (c. 1796) was built by William Tuke, a pioneer of moral treatment for the insane

The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason was the first private mental asylum in America. It opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 15, 1817 and is now known as Friends Hospital. Founded in 1813 by Quakers, its original mission statement was: "To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery."

Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, PA

Industrialization and population growth led to a massive expansion of the number and size of insane asylums in every Western country in the 19th century.

In Victorian England hospitals to house the mentally unsound were built with long curved driveways. This was because it was desired at the time that mental homes would remain hidden from the general public by long drives with bends. From this practice came the phrase "to go round the bend" meaning somebody who is mentally ill.

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