Slow to Change

Western North Carolina Insane Asylum

Early alienists knew little about why a person became insane, but they were always willing to guess. The superintendent of Western North Carolina Insane Asylum reported on the causes for admission to the facility in 1888. They included: the Civil War, disappointment, jealousy, menstrual irregularity, nostalgia, and political excitement. In 1908, the same asylum listed these causes for admission: brooding over sin, cigarette smoking, climacteric worry, desire to marry, ear disease, fear of child-birth, fear of pregnancy, fright, and hard work and nose bleed.

We seem to be living in more enlightened times, but today’s psychiatric profession has its own absurdities. The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists “caffeine-induced sleep disorder” and “mathematics disorder” as valid mental illnesses. Their list has risen from 265 recognized disorders in 1980 to 365 today.

Insane Asylum, Phoenix, Arizona

Patient in an Insane Asylum, photographed by Dr. Hugh Welch (Britain)

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2 thoughts on “Slow to Change

  1. Carla Joinson

    You present interesting conundrums that have sparked debate for years. Thanks so much for reading my blog!

  2. Mark p.s.2

    It is a question of freedom. How free are you and I to be crazy?
    When are you and I an adult?
    Are we humans machines or animals?
    When does the Government have the responsibility to look after the ill?
    The voluntary ill patient (feeling unwanted fear and depression) versus the involuntary ill patient (feeling grandiosity and mania).
    What drugs do you want or need to consume? Tobacco and alcohol? Illegal ones? Versus drugs forced to consume by psychiatrists called medicines.

    Does the Government have the right to prevent crime before it happens? Or do you have to actually commit a crime before being locked up in a hospital/prison?

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