May 15, 1817 – The Quakers opened the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason today in Philadelphia. Its mission was to provide moral mental health treatment, and it set the stage for the big shift to modern psychiatric attitudes.
Prior to its opening, mental health facilities kept patients in chains and subject to punishment as a form of therapy. The new Asylum functioned in a climate of kindness and respect for patients, who were each given private rooms with windows, as well as opportunities to walk around the campus gardens.
Today, this Asylum is known as the Friends Hospital and continues to provide compassionate care to the mentally ill.
Words of Wisdom
It seemed to me I was living in an insane asylum of my own making. I went about with all these fantastic figures: centaurs, nymphs, satyrs, gods and goddesses, as though they were patients and I was analyzing them. I read a Greek or Negro myth as if a lunatic were telling me his anamnesis.