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Date(s) - 09/12/2024
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Summary: The history of mental health care and the institutions that provided it is complicated. Certainly, there were times when the treatment was barbaric for those judged to be insane. Patients were isolated, shackled, poorly clothed and fed, as well as subject to a variety of treatments judged by today’s standards to be barbaric. One could argue that fear and ignorance drove decision making when it came to mental health care. However, during the nineteenth century, significant progress was made in the understanding and treatment of mental illness. In New York, the efforts of both physicians and reformers lead to a series of laws that would usher in a more widespread focus on Moral Management, which began to emerge in the previous century. Moral Management of the insane argued for fresh air and exercise, a regimented work schedule, and kindness. As this system was implemented in institutions specifically designed for its use, the nineteenth century saw a continued, if slow, improvement in the care of the insane.

Presenter bio: Rosanne L. Higgins, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, a lecturer, and a writer. Her goal has been to share her research with both the scholarly community and the public at large, and she has numerous academic publications as well as creative works which focus on the Erie County Poorhouse in Buffalo, New York. In addition to presenting research at scholarly conferences, Dr. Higgins also lectures locally on the topic of Buffalo’s institutional history. She is a docent at the Buffalo History Museum and the former Buffalo State Asylum.

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