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In the old days, mental asylums were infamous for horrifying medical procedures. Nowadays, scientific discoveries and psychiatry are correcting the past. 

In the past, mental asylums were not good places for people with mental problems because of horrifying medical procedures. People were poorly treated and lived in harmful conditions. Now, modern psychiatric hospitals are much better. People with mental health illnesses are cared for with kindness and better treatments. The hospitals listen to each person’s needs and use good medicines and therapies. Families are included, and the places are safe and comfortable. The old asylums were terrible, but today’s hospitals are about understanding, helping, and ensuring people are treated well.

History of Mental Asylums 

The history of mental asylums began long ago. People with mental troubles were often misunderstood and mistreated. As time passed, societies built asylums to house them. These places were meant to help but often brought suffering. Patients faced harsh conditions and painful treatments. Recently, a better understanding of mental health led to improved care. Asylums closed and replaced by modern therapies and support. History reminds us to treat all with kindness and adequately care for those in need.

Asylum Scandals 

In the book “Asylum Scandals,” Patricia Lubeck tells us about shocking things that happened in Minnesota’s asylums from 1867 to 1915. She worked hard to find the truth by talking to people and looking at old stories. She discovered that bad things happened at St. Peter State Hospital and Rochester State Hospital. People there, like patients, families, workers, and the news, saw how terrible it was. Lubeck shares stories where patients were treated poorly and even killed. What’s worse is that sometimes, people were put in these places just because others thought they were crazy, even if there wasn’t enough proof. The book shows treatments and torture procedures in the past. It says we need to change and take care of people better.

8 Horrifying Medical Procedures Performed in Mental Asylums


One of the most infamous procedures was the lobotomy. This involved drilling holes into a patient’s skull and severing connections within the brain. The procedure aimed to alleviate symptoms of mental illness but often resulted in severe cognitive impairment, leaving patients in a worse state than before.


Hydrotherapy involves immersing patients in cold or hot water baths for extended periods. The idea was to shock the body and mind, supposedly curing mental disorders. However, this procedure often caused physical harm and distress without providing any real therapeutic benefits.

Insulin Shock Therapy

Patients were subjected to insulin shock therapy, where large insulin doses were injected, inducing comas. The intention was to “reset” the brain, but the procedure risked causing seizures, coma complications, and even death.

Rotational Therapy

This procedure involved spinning patients on a rotating chair for hours. The spinning motion was believed to rearrange the brain somehow and treat mental illness. Instead, patients experienced dizziness, nausea, and sometimes physical injuries from falling off the chair.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT, also known as electroshock therapy, is still used today but in a much safer and more controlled manner. In the past, patients underwent ECT without anesthesia, resulting in extreme pain, broken bones, and memory loss. The procedure was often administered excessively and without proper consent.

Forced Restraints

Patients were treated inhumanely by being chained, shackled, or restrained for extended periods. This not only caused physical discomfort but also led to psychological trauma and deterioration of mental health.

Spinning Chair Therapy

Like rotational therapy, this procedure involved placing patients in a spinning chair and rotating them at high speeds. The aim was to manipulate brain functions, but the only outcome was intense dizziness, vomiting, and disorientation.


Psychosurgery aims to alter brain structure by cutting, burning, or removing brain tissue. This invasive procedure often led to irreversible cognitive and emotional damage, leaving patients with severe disabilities and long-lasting trauma.

Improvement in The Modern Psychiatric Hospitals

Modern psychiatric hospitals have gotten better. In the past, they were like prisons, with bad conditions and treatment. But now, things have changed. Hospitals focus on care and comfort. Doctors and nurses use kind methods to help patients. Therapy and medications are personalized. Privacy is respected—no more chains or restraints. People understand mental health more now. Support from family and friends is encouraged. It’s a hopeful shift towards a brighter future for those seeking help with their minds.

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