Category Archives: Medical treatments

Medical treatments for insanity were often harsh and punitive. They included the liberal use of narcotics. Doctors and attendants used drugs to sedate patients to make them easier to manage. Physical restraints were often used.

Focus Of Inspections

The Canton Asylum for Insane Indians was inspected many times throughout its life. However, inspectors tended to focus on “things” rather than people. In a January, 1912 report that discussed some sewer problems at the asylum (see last post), Inspector … Continue reading

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The Chronic Insane

  Alienists stressed that the prompt treatment of insanity was imperative to a cure. They cautioned the public that it was far wiser to bring an afflicted person to an asylum for a cure as soon as possible, rather than … Continue reading

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Evolution of Treatment for the Insane

Most modern readers would consider the mid-1800s a fairly rough and rugged period, inhabited by correspondingly rough and rugged individuals. However, changes in the treatment of insanity during this period point to the idea that people in the middle 1800s … Continue reading

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New Ideas

Food was not the only way to treat physical illnesses (see last few posts), though healthy eating may have been the least harmful way to ward off sickness. The turn of the 20th century saw many innovations and experimental treatments … Continue reading

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Harvest at the Asylum

Non-urban communities had always held the harvest season in high esteem: good crops meant sufficient food for the winter; there was satisfaction in seeing hard work pay off; and perhaps not least, harvest meant an end to the constant labor … Continue reading

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Too Much Change

The federal government had sought to integrate, or assimilate, Native Americans into the larger white culture for some time before the Canton Asylum opened. Policy-makers did not try to achieve this goal by meeting Native Americans halfway or by gradually … Continue reading

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Sharp Contrasts

Much of the commentary concerning insane asylums tends toward the negative, and rightly so, since they were often places of confinement for people who were in them unwillingly. Treatments were also much too vigorous at times, and many patients must … Continue reading

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Practicing Medicine on a Frontier

Any reasonably ambitious man could become a doctor during the nation’s early years. Few licensing requirements existed, and men could choose to attend one of many substandard medical schools that were unbelievably slack in their requirements for both entry and … Continue reading

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The Push West

In April, 1750, “Colby Chew and his horse fell down the bank,” wrote Dr. Thomas Walker, an Appalachian explorer, in his journal. “I bled and gave him valatile [sic] drops and he soon recovered.”* Pioneers going to the West encountered … Continue reading

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The Rest Cure

The rest cure was probably the most fashionable of responses to a condition of “nerves” or neurasthenia (see last three posts). Only the wealthy could afford such a complete withdrawal from obligations or work, let alone take on the obvious … Continue reading

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