Mental Illnesses Have Been The Most Misunderstood Conditions Affecting Mankind

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Throughout history mental illnesses have been the most misunderstood conditions affecting mankind. People exhibiting “strange”, “unusual” or “bizarre” behavior were shunned and/or feared. The person was thought to be possessed by “evil spirits” or “devils”. Over the centuries, many different “treatments” were devised to rid the person of the evil spirits that possessed them. The practice of drilling holes in a person’s skull to let the evil spirits escape began thousands of years ago and continues today in some primitive societies.

During the Middle Ages the most effective method of removing the devil was to burn both the person and the devil at the stake. While this treatment was a disaster for the “possessed” individual, it did bring peace of mind to the community. They no longer had to deal with strange behaviors of the “possessed” person and could stop worrying about how to explain or to respond to them.

Over the next couple of centuries, the “treatment” changed from burning people at the stake to locking them away in asylums. The rationale behind this treatment was “out of sight – out of mind”. If these people were removed from society, society could forget about them and avoid dealing with this problem. Most people were locked away for life. They had no civil rights. Family members would gradually accept the fate that their loved one was not coming home. Their lives returned to normal since their activities were no longer centered on the person with the mental…

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