Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry


Throughout the ages, treatment of the mentally ill has evolved with distinct periods of progression, stagnation and regression. These differences in time mirrored how society understood mental illness and the mentally ill person on both a biological and interpersonal level. At various points in history, treatment of the mentally ill included cruel and inhumane acts, while at other times, consisted of compassionate and benevolent care. What follows is a brief comparison of how mental illness was conceptualized and how persons with mental illness were treated in the pre-moral and moral eras of medicine. The pre-moral era is from the end of the classical period to the middle 1700's, while the moral era is considered to be from the middle 1700's to the late 1800's. This review highlights how personal, religious and scientific philosophies weigh heavily in creating a paradigm to conceptualize and treat mental illness.