Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.
“Moral treatment” was one of the first of many waves of reform and innovation in modern psychiatry. Developed initially in Western Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was premised on the idea that the afflictions of the insane could be relieved, in part, by strict regulation of their daily routine. The hope was to counter their disorder of mind with external order, as an alternative to more overtly coercive forms of treatment. Although its reputation as a humane and liberating advance over earlier asylum practice has been tarnished by some historians influenced by antipsychiatric thinking, it can be credited for promoting a simple sentiment that has too often been at risk: the mad are people, too.
Sadowsky J. Psychiatry, History. JAMA. 2006;296(11):1407-1412. doi:10.1001/jama.296.11.1408-a