Plzeňské sympozia

Hana Mášová

The Psychologically Disabled on the Fringes of Society. Institutions for the Mentally Sick

pp. 241–252 (Czech), Summary p. 252 (English)

The first institutions for the mentally sick in Prague and Brno were set up in accord with the Directive Regulations decreed by Joseph II in the late 18th century. The principles of what was then known as a humane treatment of the mentally sick, inspired by Pinel and Esquirol, were subsequently implemented in the Bohemian Lands primarily during the second half of the 19th century when the empire’s provincial administrations were tasked with meeting the time’s immensely increased demand for the institutionalization of psychologically disabled patients. Improvisation was then rife, with old premises being refurbished. Apart from that, however, several new institutions were built, which proved safely commensurable with European standards. That said, even they had to grapple, throughout their existence, with an ever more pressing lack of capacity, as well as with criticism aimed at their very raison d’etre. While this trend was ultimately beneficial to the development of scientific research into the field and its application, a certain segment of opinion voicing uncertainty as to whom to institutionalize and what can and should be done for them once they are in, has to some extent survived to this day.

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