A brief history of mental illness
Pre-history to the modern day: the progression of understanding mental illness
Pre-history (eg Stone Age)
Trepanning (drilling holes in the skull) is used to get rid of evil spirits.
Approx. 400 BCE
Hippocrates treats mental illness as a problem of the body rather than a punishment sent by the gods.
Opening of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, also known as ‘Bedlam’.
Chains, shackles and imprisonment are largely used to restrain and control the mentally ill.
Normal ovaries are removed to treat ‘mental madness’ and ‘hysterical vomiting’ in some women.
Wilhelm Wundt opens the first experimental psychology lab at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
Psychoanalysis inspired by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and others.
Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler first uses the term ‘schizophrenia’.
Patients with shell shock are counselled – the precursor of modern treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lobotomy (surgical removal of part of the brain).
Electro-shock therapy for schizophrenia and manic depression (now called bipolar disorder).
Lithium for psychosis and manic depression.
The first anti-psychotic drug, Thorazine, for psychosis.
Behaviour therapy for phobias.
Librium and Valium for nonpsychotic anxiety.
A move away from asylums, mental institutions and hospitals to community-based healthcare.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression.
New generation of anti-psychotic drugs for schizophrenia.
Mindfulness meditation becomes an increasingly important tool in mainstream psychiatric and psychological care.
The link between hearing voices (previously thought to be a symptom of brain disease) and childhood trauma is found to be stronger than the link between smoking and lung cancer.
LPM570065, a triple reuptake inhibitor (TRI), rapidly reduces depression in rats. This class of drugs is being considered as an alternative treatment for depressed people.
Wellcome Library, London CC BY