Monday, March 7, 2011
Eastern State Hospital: America’s First Insane Asylum
Founded in 1773, Eastern State Hospital, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, was the first officially recognized institution constructed solely for the care and treatment of the mentally ill in the United States. Initially intended only to treat and discharge the “curable” mentally ill and confine those deemed a threat to themselves and others, this public hospital was not designed with the chronic and harmless mentally ill in mind. At this time in American history, treatment for psychiatric disorders consisted primarily of restraint and application of various types of discomfort and pain, as most social scientists of the era believed the irrational behavior exhibited by the mentally ill was a conscious choice they could be dissuaded from repeating. Read more . . .