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Mental Hospitals

Institutions for the mentally ill, formerly called asylums, and now called psychiatric institutions.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, mental hospitals were basically prisons. By the end of the eighteenth century, the term asylum was used, and some reforms were being implemented when the notion was introduced that psychological disturbances, like physical ailments, could be viewed as diseases requiring treatment rather than crimes calling for imprisonment. By the late 1800s, reactions against conditions in mental hospitals led to a reform movement in the care and treatment of people with mental disorders. The Mental Health Act of 1946 and the Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963 allotted federal funds for the establishment of community treatment centers, which provide a variety of services—including short-term and partial hospitalization—in an effort toward the deinstitutionalization of mental patients. As of the late 1990s, institutions for the treatment of mental disorders are called psychiatric institutions. These institutions—along with mental health centers and halfway houses—form a system for treatment of mental disorders at all levels of severity.

Further Reading

Wyer, Robert S., Jr., ed. Knowledge and Memory: The Real Story. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995.

Hartmann, Ernest. Boundaries in the Mind: A New Psychology of Personality Difference. New York: Basic Books, 1991.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaDiseases, Disorders & Mental Conditions