Brief History of Therapy
12 Clinical Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
Archeological evidence and historical documents suggest that early humans believed people with mental health problems were possessed by evil spirits. Trephining, also known as trepanning, drilling holes in skulls, also indicates that early practitioners attempted to release these spirits.
Over 2,000 years ago, Greek physician Hippocrates proposed that psychological problems have physical causes for which he prescribed rest, controlled diets, and abstinence from sex and alcohol. More than 1,500 years ago, Greek physician Galen believed that medicine was needed to treat abnormal behavior, which he thought was a result of an imbalance in the four bodily humors, similar to today’s biomedical approach. Unfortunately, during the medieval period, most societies returned to the belief that demons or Satan possessed people suffering from mental problems. Victims were punished with exorcisms or tested by drowning and burning.
The Enlightenment brought reformers: in the 18th century, Philippe Pinel of France and, in the 19th century, Dorothea Dix of the United States were champions of humane treatment for those who were mentally ill. Instead of treating those with mental health problems as sinners or criminals, they created separate institutions for them and pioneered more individualized and kinder treatment strategies.
Serious overcrowding of most mental institutions became a problem by the 1950s. As a result, the needs of many patients were neglected. When better psychotropic drugs were created, a movement, deinstitutionalization, began to remove patients who were not considered a threat to themselves or the community from mental hospitals. Similar to the more humane goals of Pinel and Dix, the intent was that patients would improve more rapidly in familiar community settings. In the 1960s, Congress passed aid bills to establish community mental health facilities in neighborhoods across the United States.
An unintended consequence of deinstitutionalization is today’s homeless population. A substantial proportion of this group is thought to be made up of people with schizophrenia, mostly off their medications and in serious need of care. Families and communities have failed to meet the needs of these people.