The Snake Pit And Girl Interrupted Essay

1466 Words 6 Pages
In American history, mental illness has been one of the mysterious parts of human behavior. For decades, people have mystified, feared, and experimented on mental illness patients. From the 1940s to the 1960s acknowledgment and knowledge of mental illness among the general population increased. The movies The Snake Pit and Girl Interrupted showed the stigma behind mental illness, patient to doctor relationships, and the treatment in the mental illness institutions of their particular decade. The Snake Pit displayed the little education on mental illness in the 40s, Twenty years later, in the 60s, the film Girl Interrupted portrayed a better understanding and acceptance towards mentally ill people in the 60s. In the 1940s, few doctors were …show more content…
The treatment was crude and experimental. Before the 1940s, mental hospitals were utilized to separate mental illness patients from the rest of society. The majority of these asylums did not treat the patients at all and the doctors treated the patients as prisoners. Finally, in the 1940s, therapies such as electroshock and hypnotism were used. Electroshock was believed to help with psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. Hypnotism was used in the movie and in real life because it was thought that if a patient could remember the time before they were sick, they would be magically cured. (Unite For Sight) Nurses and doctors were still fearful of what the patients could be capable of due to the little amount of education about the symptoms and behaviors of mental illness patients. In an attempt to stifle the sometimes violent behaviors, straight jackets and restraints were used. In The Snake Pit, (The Snake Pit) the patients received little supervision, check ups, and treatment besides when the electroshock therapy or hypnotism. Because of the huge size and overcrowding of the institutions patients rarely had meaningful human interaction. In the late 1940s, experts began to study chemical imbalances in the brain and there was experimental use of chemicals to give relief to patients. (Timeline of VA and …show more content…
The Snake Pit exposed the passive care that many patients received in the 1940s because the doctors did not understand how to be compassionate and respectful of mental illness patients. The little education on the needs for mental illness patients resulted in understaffed and overcrowded hospitals, often cruel and unhelpful treatment, and very little effective communication and therapy between the patients and society. Girl Interrupted exhibited an improving awareness on how to treat mental illness. Most patients received specific treatment that was catered to their needs. The doctors treated the patients with compassion and respect and they had begun to understand that a mental illness is more complex that a physical injury. Also, because of the recognition from the government, the hospitals became less crowded. Both movies are important today because they unmasked a shameful part of American history and they also displayed how far treatment toward mental illnesses has come today. Today, we continue to strive to understand what it means to have a mental illness and why and how the chemicals in the brain

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