I have been working at Colorado Health Mental Institute-Pueblo for about two months now. In orientation I was told the history of the institution and how back in 1879 when it opened it was an insane asylum. This made me interested in the history of insane asylums. Why did we have them. Where did they first originated from.
The first asylum that came to be was in Pennsylvania in 1756. The Quaker colony started to notice that the poor population was growing and there was no help for them. They decided to make workhouses but then those started to be to expensive that Pennsylvania decided to build almshouses so the poor can have better treatment that was not as expensive. This institution was called Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane.
In 1769 several mentally ill people were wondering around the community of Williamsburg, Virginia that would cause havoc. They were unfit for the almshouse that Virginia had to build a separate institution which would be the first “lunatic” asylum which today is known as the Eastern State Hospital.
In the 1800’s there was a big demand for insane asylums. Almost every state had one by 1820. But then again there was not much research about mental illness. To the point that masturbation was considered an illness. Anyone can report anyone to have a mental illness. It got to the point that women who were menstruating was an illness and so was being lazy. Doctors experimented and tortured patients to try to free from there illnesses.
In 1820-1863 Josiah Quincy and John Yates started to visit and investigate these insane asylums and would report the neglect and abuse that the asylums would inflict there patients.
The only thing that I found interesting is that we still have a few of the same problems with mental institutions that we did back in the 1800’s. There is still under staffing. There is still a problem (not as bad) but mentally insane patients still go to jail instead of getting the treatment that they need. But then again it goes hand in hand with the under staffing.