Psychiatric Care during the Civil War was primitive at best. Mental hospitals were referred to as lunatic asylums for the most part and treatment was either non-existent or draconian. Mental institutions, such as they were, served more as dumping grounds for the mentally ill. There did not seem to be a great deal of empathy from the mainstream. I would expect these same attitudes were held by Civil War soldiers, many of whom suffered from post-war psychological issues themselves.State hospitals did exist during that time how did they fare. With war raging all around did the combatants display compassion for those at the hospitals.
Nellie's Bly's expose of the horrible conditions in a home for the mentally ill was published in 1887 - I imagine things wer
Dickens was another advocate for the poor, the mentally ill and physically handicapped. In what I call his "big three" (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby) Dickens attacked the times and perpetrators. Beatings, theft, denying food and other essentials presented "in your face". But the irony of it is Dickens all but abandoned his wife and family in his later years; pursuing a much younger woman.Nellie's Bly's expose of the horrible conditions in a home for the mentally ill was published in 1887 - I imagine things were even worse 20 years before that.
Richard Lawrence, the failed assassin of then President Andrew Jackson was found NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY. He was in several mental hospitals over the years. I'm trying to get more info on that. His last years were spent in St. Elizabeth's (better known as today's St.Elsewhere) He died in 1861. (I have the exact date but it 's not handy)
With all the digging I found VERY LITTLE on conditions, etc. Even Lawrence cause of death is not list available. I suspect pneumonia since he often let his stove go out and he was either sitting in his room in just his night shirt or naked. Insensitive to the cold
In Lawrence's case a dozen doctors and "specialists" were called up to examine and question him. One was a friend of President Jackson. No temporary insanity in the trial. As I understand it Lawrence was committed to prevent him from harming anyone or himself. He had a history of violent attacks and tried to kill his sister. He was jailed but released.I thought Dan Sickles' plea and subsequent finding by the court of "not guilty by reason of temporary insanity" in his 1859 murder trial was the first time that type of defense had been used in a criminal case.
Edited : My bad. Figured out there is a difference between "not guilty by reason of temporary insanity" and "not guilty by reason of insanity."
This headstone is in the Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC. There are two other family members buried w/ him.St. Elizabeth's opened officially in January 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane. It also served as a US Army Hospital during the war. Lawrence died on June 13, 1861. He was born in 1808. No cause of death is listed anywhere I could find. The hospital was originally opened to take care of indigent people in the district, and members of the US Army and Navy with brain illnesses.
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I Tend to think these assylums were more of a "hiding place" to avoid social embarrassment for the wealthy. And to keep them from inheriting what was rightfully and legally theirs.From what I've read "treatment" of mental disorders was brutal. They were seen as deviants who had to be trained (by use of force and punishment) to conform. Young patients who were born with serious disabilities were seen as simply damaged and were mostly just caged and treated like animals. That continued well into the twentieth century. Also, most asylums also took in TB patients so they were a mixed population in many places; TB was a common cause of death. I really don't think there was much of what we'd consider compassion.