Introduction and History of Mental Illness

Our earliest explanation of what we now refer to as psychopathology involved the possession by evil spirits and demons. Many believed, even as late as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that the bizarre behavior associated with mental illness could only be an act of the devil himself. To remedy this, many individuals suffering from mental illness were tortured in an attempt to drive out the demon. Most people know of the witch trials where many women were brutally murdered due to a false belief of possession. When the torturous methods failed to return the person to sanity, they were typically deemed eternally possessed and were executed.9

By the eighteenth century we began to look at mental illness differently. It was during this time period that “madness” began to be seen as an illness beyond the control of the person rather than the act of a demon. Because of this, thousands of people confined to dungeons of daily torture were released to asylums where medical forms of treatment began to be investigated.

Today, the medical model continues to be a driving force in the diagnosing and treatment of psychopathology, although research has shown the powerful effects that psychology has on a person’s behavior, emotion, and cognitions. This chapter will discuss the various ways mental illness is classified as well as the effects of mental illness on the individual and society.Introduction and History of Mental Illness

Our earliest explanation of what we now refer to as psychopathology involved the possession by evil spirits and demons. Many believed, even as late as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that the bizarre behavior associated with mental illness could only be an act of the devil himself. To remedy this, many individuals suffering from mental illness were tortured in an attempt to drive out the demon. Most people know of the witch trials where many women were brutally murdered due to a false belief of possession. When the torturous methods failed to return the person to sanity, they were typically deemed eternally possessed and were executed.

By the eighteenth century we began to look at mental illness differently. It was during this time period that “madness” began to be seen as an illness beyond the control of the person rather than the act of a demon. Because of this, thousands of people confined to dungeons of daily torture were released to asylums where medical forms of treatment began to be investigated.

Today, the medical model continues to be a driving force in the diagnosing and treatment of psychopathology, although research has shown the powerful effects that psychology has on a person’s behavior, emotion, and cognitions. This chapter will discuss the various ways mental illness is classified as well as the effects of mental illness on the individual and society.