chapter  16
The history of psychiatry
ByBen Green
Pages 12

The history of psychiatry is surprisingly lengthy and this reflects the long time that humankind has suffered with symptoms of mental illness. The position of psychiatry as a medical discipline has been largely affected by tensions between various beliefs about mental illness held by the prevailing culture. The government invested hundreds of millions of pounds in creating teams for treating severe mental illness in the community in the early years of this millennium. One of the promises made for such teams was that they would prevent hospital admissions. Madness has existed since ancient times. The view that madness was mental illness delivered the mentally ill from the hands of the witchfinders, the superstitious and those who would imprison them in prisons. Specific treatments enabled the decanting of thousands of mentally ill from the asylums and prepared the ground for community treatment. Society adopts a logical approach to mental illness rather approaching it from the point of view of magical thinking.