Mental Health

Read about the fascinating history of psychiatry.


Psychiatry got its name as a medical specialty in the early 1800s. For the first century of its existence, the field concerned itself with severely disordered individuals confined to asylums or hospitals. These patients were generally psychotic, severely depressed or manic, or suffered conditions we would now recognize as medical: dementia, brain tumors, seizures, hypothyroidism, etc. As was true of much of medicine at the time, treatment was rudimentary, often harsh, and generally ineffective. Psychiatrists did not treat outpatients, i.e., anyone who functioned even minimally in everyday society. Instead, neurologists treated “nervous” conditions, so named for their presumed origin in disordered nerves.

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