The insane, a study of their diagnosis and subsequent treatment from ancient to modern times with a focus on Indiana and a case study of Delaware County from 1869 to 1927

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Authors
Kirchner, Jack M.
Advisor
Hoover, Dwight W.
Issue Date
1983
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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Abstract

The story of the mentally ill is a tale which is filled with unpleasant facts. Only a very few persons have even a semblance of knowledge about mental deficiencies and those citizen unfortunates who have borne, or will travail, under the throes of such a mysterious affliction. Those people who do know the narrative of the "lunatic," too often are unwilling to reveal their expertise.Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to follow the history of those multitudes of mentally ill persons from primitive to contemporary times. One's attention will be focused upon the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of insanity in ancient Egypt and Greece, Europe during the Dark and Middle Ages, England prior to and during the adventures at empire, colonial America, Indiana prior to and after statehood, and specifically Delaware County, Indiana from 1869 through 1927.The research has shown that ages of abuse, restraints, banishment by popular consent from society, sequestration, and indifference toward the mindless in humanity have not explained the ambiguity of mental illness, dwindled man's apprehension regarding the mentally incapacitated, or put to rest his troublesome inner thoughts.In conclusion, little has changed. In contemporary times mankind tends to waver between throwing madness wholly out of perception and out of psyche, and complying with humanitarian impulses to heal the sick souls.It appears that the treatment of the mentally ill has gone full cycle. From remote but centralized places of containment in earliest times, the mentally ill were then supported rather ineffectively at county and local places in accordance with poor law regulations. Then came the advent of state-supported hospitals to replace the often despicable county and local poor farms and jails. But today the collapse of that whole system seems virtually ready to take place as funding becomes less adequate. The feeling is that the mentally ill can better be cared for at local levels. And so once again, the "unwanted" human cargo of concern will soon be back on the serpentine path to resume the life that just a little over a century ago was thought to be grossly inhumane.