The Effects Of Mental Illness On American Culture Essay

1484 Words Jun 3rd, 2015 null Page
Mental illness is probably the most misunderstood and abused illness in American culture. It was and still is an illness that is rarely discussed. The stigma surrounding it was so strong it was looked upon as a crime. Patients would be “put away” to not necessarily to be treated but to shield them from the public. This stigma has continued. In the media, the mentally ill are often times portrayed as the violent and unpredictable criminals that terrorize the normal people. They are still viewed as outcasts and completely misrepresented today.
The general public has always discarded, avoided, and shamed the mentally ill. Colonial Americans referred to them as “lunatics”, a derogatory term that is still used today. The colonists lacked any knowledge of medicine and determined the causes of mental illnesses to be affiliation with the devil. Therefore, in a Puritan dominated culture, the mentally ill were removed from society and locked away where they could be treated. The treatments that they used are considered inhumane and barbaric by today’s standards, but accepted by the colonists of the time because the lunatics were no longer part of society. “Cures” included submerging the patient in an ice bath until he or she lost consciousness, cathartic treatment, and the notorious bleeding practice in which a patient’s blood was drained in order to remove the “bad” from the body. These treatments were obviously ineffective and caused death or made matters worse two out of three…

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