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During the colonial period through the eighteenth century neither pauperism nor insanity was a critical problem in society The mentally ill were considered to be one of several classes of dependent citizens The colonies accepted the English principle that it was the responsibility of local communities to care for their own and subsequently to the church and local government Since colonial society was predominately rural deviant behavior was largely tolerated In sparsely settled areas persons who broke social rules could easily keep to themselves Wealthier families kept their deranged members in attics or cellars and hired private attendants Demented individuals who were not dangerous wandered about and generally were warned out of town so they would not become a local responsibility Those who were violent were thought possessed by the devil and they were whipped shackled in the market place or kept in outside pens despite the weather Boston established almshouse in 1662 in which the poor the aged the blind the insane idiots and orphans were confined together The first law for the treatment of the mentally ill was passed in Massachusetts in 1676 ordering select men to provide care and protect the community from them Some built work houses in which the individuals greeting was ten lashes Deutsch 1949 The scientific spirit however was prominent in the United States as well as in Europe The Pennsylvania Hospital opened a ward for lunatics in 1752 albeit in the basement Although there were attempts to treat patients medically some of the treatment of the day purging blistering the skin bleeding and other shock tactics appear rather punitive from a modern perspective The first colony-wide mental hospital was built in 1769 in Virginia but most communities simply sectioned off rooms from other institutions for example Grob 1973 These asylums became training centers for the new science of psychiatry and charged the public fees to see patients exhibited once or twice a week Day 1997
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