Historical perspective of abnormal psychology is definitely very interesting. It is amazing how people perceived abnormal behavior in ancient times. People believed that abnormal behavior was caused due to supernatural or divine forces.
In medieval times, it was believed that a person was possessed by evil spirits and the only solution was exorcism.
Greek physicians like Hippocrates and Galen begged to differ from those around them. These believed that abnormal behavior was because of natural causes and could be treated. It was only in the 19th century that a German physician, Wilhelm Griesinger, brought the concept of abnormal behavior being a disease of the brain. Another German physician, Emil Kraeplin, agreed with him. In fact, Griesinger is believed to have influenced the development of modern medical model where abnormal behavior is compared to physical illness.
It was in the late 15th and 16 centuries, that historical perspective of abnormal behavior changed. Asylums sprung up across Europe where people displaying abnormal behavioral patterns were housed. Unfortunately the conditions in these asylums were awful and only improved in the 19th century with the rise of moral therapy.
People who supported moral therapy believed that those demonstrating abnormal behaviors could be brought back to normal functioning if they were treated with a little respect, care and understanding. However, moral therapy started declining towards the end of the 19th century and people started believing that mental disorders could not be treated. Once again conditions in the asylums started getting worse and they were treated more as custodial care for the insane.
It was only in the middle of the 20th century when people started realizing the misery mental patients were living in. Immediately there was a movement to improve institutions that housed mental patients and this led to the development of community mental health centers for long term care. In addition, psychoactive drugs were also invented and this led to doctors making an effort to cure patients through drug use.
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