The most recent newsletter of The Society for General Psychology (Division 1 of the American Psychological Association) features a short article dispelling some of the common myths surrounding asylum history. Authored by Jennifer Bazar, a graduate student in the History and Theory of psychology program at York University, the piece addresses the follow three myths of asylum history:
Myth 1: Men were institutionalized more frequently than women [I have also heard the reverse].
Myth 2: Asylums were “dumping grounds” or “warehouses” for those labelled as insane (and the poor, the feeble-minded, etc).
Myth 3: Electro-shock (today: electro-convulsive therapy) was a popular form of treatment.
Bazar also chronicles her asylum research on her blog Field Notes.
The full Society for General Psychology newsletter, including “Asylum History Myth-Busting” (p. 34-35), can be downloaded here.