Possessed By The Devil
On this date in 1798, French physician Philippe Pinel cut chains from the limbs of patients called madmen at the Bicκtre Hospital, a Parisian insane asylum where Pinel had become chief physician six years earlier. Some patients had been in chains for up to 40 years. Later, he became head of the Salpκtriθre Hospital and unchained the female inmates kept there. Pinel worked long and hard to dispel the common notion that mental illness occurred because a patient was possessed by the devil. Instead, he thought mental illness resulted from too much psychological and social stress. A prolific writer, Pinel described the differences among various psychoses and wrote extensively about withdrawal, hallucination and other symptoms. He also banished archaic treatments such as blistering, bleeding and purging, choosing instead to discuss his patients personal troubles with them. He also set out activities for his mental patients to accomplish as their health improved.
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