JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
Statistics show a great increase during the last few decades in the number of patients suffering from mental diseases. This increase is not only relative and due to the increase of population, but it is absolute in the sense that the number of insane people to the population is proportionately greater than before. There is little doubt that the reason for this greater frequency of mental affections is that the strenuous life in our large cities almost inevitably leads to a loss of mental equilibrium in those who are of inadequate mental caliber. The better hygiene as a consequence of the enforcement of sanitary regulations and advancement in medical science have led to the preservation of a great many weaker individuals who would have fallen victims either to the various infantile diseases in childhood or a little later would have succumbed to the infectious diseases which used to be such effective agents in removing the less fit from among the population. It is these less vital individuals whose minds especially prove incapable of standing the strain put on them by our modern life and who live to be the increasing population of our insane asylums.
MENTAL DISEASES AND GENERAL PRACTICE.. JAMA. 2006;295(21):2547. doi:10.1001/jama.295.21.2547