Friday, November 18, 2011
ASSYLUM PRACTICES IN THE 1900's
In 1917, a man named John Hart murdered his brother-in-law, Frank Lease, who was the Principal for the Salem High School at the time. While in prison, he felt that he should have special treatment because he didn't commit just any offense like theft, but he was a MURDERER! He wanted better food, a softer bed, nicer clothes! He even wrote to people like the Ford Motor Company, asking them to help him out of jail. Both men were sent to the asylum in Lima, OH. Often I have said that their fate was worse than even death. Mental asylums were horrible places. They could do anything they wanted to you.
In Columbiana County there was the Old County Home. It housed the mentally ill, and the homeless as well. In the basement of one of these building was found chains connected to the wall with shackles and was used to chain the seemingly uncontrollable. I wonder if they did other things popular for the times? Here are a few notable practices for mentally ill patients:
1. Water Treatment
Patients were submerged in ice-cold water for extended periods of time. Sometimes they were wrapped in sheets which had been soaked in ice water and restrained.
2. Shock Therapy
Electric shocks were administered to patients submerged in water tanks or, more commonly, directly to the temples by the application of brine-soaked electrodes. A patient held a rubber piece in his mouth to prevent him from biting his tongue off during the convulsions which followed a treatment.
3. Lobotomy (Original)
Patients had their skulls opened and their neural passages separated midway through the brain. This difficult and arduous procedure killed many people, but those who survived did in fact forget many of their depressive or psychotic tendencies. They also forgot a lot of other things, and many became catatonic, drooling, needing a diaper, etc. Yet with so many patients, doctors continued using the practice and even worked to streamline the process.
4. Lobotomy (Trans-Orbital)
Developed by Dr. Walter J. Freeman in the early 1950s, this simpler lobotomy became something of a craze in mental health circles up through the 60s. Dr. Freeman's method involved knocking the patient unconscious with electric shocks, then rolling an eyelid back and inserting a thin metal icepick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A mallet was used to tap the instrument the proper depth into the brain. Next it was sawed back and forth to sever the neural receptors. Sometimes this was done in both eyes. There is some evidence that this method actually helped some people with very severe conditions, but much more often the patient had horrible side effects and in many cases ended up catatonic. Of course, it killed people too.
They could tie you to your chair or bed for days with minimal care like food or water. The really uncontrollable were put in a straight jacket naked and thown into a room in the basement or, like in the Old County Home, chained to the wall. Better prison or death in those days than the chambers of horror that were called Mental Institutions. For more information please check out
The Ridges in Athens ,Ohio! This is a place G12P would like to visit!