Thursday, November 09, 2006

"The Father of American Psychiatry"

Dr. Benjamin Rush - also known as the "Father of American Psychiatry" was alive from 1745-1813. Just before he passed away - in 1812 - he published the first American textbook on psychiatry.
In this book, masturbation and too much blood to the brain were considered causes of madness. Treatment involved cauterizing the spine and genitals or encasing the patient's private parts in plaster to prevent masturbation. (Oddly enough, in present time masturbation is considered and needful activity which prevents madness.)
Rush's recommended treatment included:

  • Dropping "patients" into a well, on the basis that "if the patient nearly drowned and then brought back to life, he would take a fresh start, leaving his disease."
  • Blistering the ankles to draw blood away from the "overheated head."
  • Bleeding as much as "four-fifths of the blood in the body" to relieve the "excessive action" in the patient's brain.

None of his ideas about the brain being the cause of insanity has ever been medically proven, and psychiatrists still forward this fallacy today to market their mind-altering drugs.

To end this segment about American Psychiatry's "Father", here as a quote from him about his invention - the "Tranquilzer Chair" pictured about two posts below this one:

"It binds and confines every part of the body. By preventing the muscles from acting...the position of the head and feet favors the easy application of cold water to the former and warm water to the latter. Its effects have been truly delightful to me."

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