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United States: 1800 to 1850

The treatment of mental and physical illness from 1800 to 1850 in the United States reveals the promise and potential of the time’s conceptualizations, but the folly and ineffectiveness of its practices. Postcolonial but largely premodern, this era began to understand mental illness as a worldly disease, though it could not alleviate mental illness with effective treatments. Homespun wisdom and lifestyle were the mainstays of treating moderate mental illness, while institutionalization became the mainstay of treating severe mental illness. Many scholars date the origins of scientific pharmacology to the mid-19th century, when the first university program in the subject was established at the University of Dorpat in Estonia. The United States lagged behind Europe in establishing pharmacology on a scientific basis, so the practice of ...

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