Skip to main content

Increase of Insanity (1895)

It is within the observation of most physicians who have the care of the insane that the insanity of physical degeneration, resulting from syphilis, paralysis, intemperance, under-feeding, epilepsy, etc., is growing more and more common. These are the least hopeful forms of insanity; and it is their prevalence which seems to have caused a diminution in the rate of recoveries, almost everywhere noticed within the last twenty years. Cases really acute, and not complicated with these forms of disease and degeneracy, recover as easily and as fast as ever; and there is even a tendency to virtual recoveries of the chronic insane, which was not so much noted until recent years.

Continue Reading »

First Annual Report Of The Trustees Of (Mass.) State Lunatic Hospital: 1833

Other institutions, both in Europe and America, which have exhibited the most remarkable proportion of cures, have discriminated in their admissions, receiving the more hopeful cases only. The inmates at Worcester have been a more select class than were ever before assembled together; but unfortunately for success in regard to cures, it has been a selection of the most deplorable cases in the whole community. Of the one hundred and sixty-four individuals received, considerably more than one half came from jails, almshouses and houses of correction, and about one third of the whole number had suffered confinement for periods varying from ten to thirty-two years.

Continue Reading »

Defective Classes (1891)

I propose the following classification of the defective classes, depending upon the three divisions of the mental faculties which are generally accepted by psychologists. Insanity and idiocy are different forms of defective intellect. Crime and vice are caused by defect of the emotions or passions. And pauperism is caused by defect of the will. Blindness and deaf-mutism are defects of the senses, requiring special forms of education, but are not defects of the mind any more than the loss of an arm or a leg. Blind or deaf people properly educated are not a burden or a danger to society, as are criminals, insane persons, or paupers. Their defects are physical, not mental, and they should not be classed with persons who have these mental defects.

Continue Reading »

Management Of Almshouses In New England

Presentation by Frank B. Sanborn at the Eleventh Annual Session, National Conference Of Charities And Correction, 1884. In this paper for the NCCC, Sanborn reviews the basic structure of poorhouse care in Massachusetts and demonstrates reformers’ intense interest in controlling costs and removing able-bodied children from poorhouses.

Continue Reading »

Massachusetts Report On Public Charities: 1876

As Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity, Franklin Benjamin Sanborn held the most powerful position on the board. This report to the National Conference of Charities illustrates Sanborn’s deep faith in the power of statistical research to illuminate the nature of social problems.

Continue Reading »

Life In The Asylum (1855)

The Opal was published by the patients at the New York State Insane Asylum in Utica during the 1850s. It contained comments on current events, literary essays and book reviews, poetry, and descriptions of events at the asylum, including the dramatic and musical productions of the patients themselves.

Continue Reading »

Franklin Pierce’s Veto Is Challenged

William Seward was one of the most powerful statesmen of the 1850s. Under Abraham Lincoln, with whom he vied for the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination, he was Secretary of State. In 1854, as a Senator from New York, he was a supporter of the Dorthea Dix bill that passed both the House and Senate. Here he provided his rationale for opposing the veto message given by President Pierce. The effort to override the veto failed.

Continue Reading »

Franklin Pierce’s 1854 Veto

The legislation advocated by Dorothea Dix — and passed by the House and Senate — was not unprecedented. At a time when there was no federal income tax, public land represented the largest potential financial resource available to the federal government. Federal lands had already been used to promote the construction of railroads, and there were discussions in 1854 of a homestead act that would provide free land to settlers who were willing to move to the West.

Continue Reading »

Moral Treatment

Written by Dr. James W. Trent, Jr., Gordon College. “Moral treatment was a product of the Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. Before then people with psychiatric conditions, referred to as the insane, were usually treated in inhumane and brutal ways.”

Continue Reading »