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A Mind That Found Itself: An Autobiography

Creator: Clifford Whittingham Beers (author)
Date: 1910
Publisher: Longmans, Green, and Co., New York
Source: Available at selected libraries

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Page 109:


"There are in this country twenty-two psychiatrical clinics or hospitals for the treatment of mental diseases. Most advanced and worthy of study are those located at Kiel, Giessen, Strassburg, Berlin, and, latest and most important of all, the new clinic at Munich, which, in all that relates to perfection of equipment and arrangement as well as to the scientific enlightenment of methods employed, stands undoubtedly at the head of all institutions of its class in this or any other country.


"In his forthcoming treatise on the treatment of mental disease Dr. Stewart Paton of Johns Hopkins University, to whose suggestion and kind assistance this report is primarily due, states the essential conditions and requirements of a modern hospital for the insane as follows:


"1. Ease of access. The institution should be near to or within the limits of a city.


"2. A limited capacity, in order that every individual may be made the subject of special study.


"3. Perfect construction, equipment, and organization, in order that a thorough and energetic treatment can be undertaken for all patients for whom there is hope of recovery.


"4. A relatively large staff of physicians and nurses.


"5. Ample provision not only for the teaching of students, but also for the prosecution of post-graduate investigations and research in clinical psychiatry, psychopathology, and in anatomy and pathology of the nervous system.


6. The ready admission of patients and their prompt transference, when necessary, to other more appropriate institutions and provisions for outdoor and voluntary patients. (24)

(24) For detailed description of a modem Psychopathic Hospital see "Psychiatry" (Chapter VI), by Stewart Paton, M.D., published 1905,by J. B. Lippincott Company.


"The Psychiatrical Clinic at Munich fulfils, to a degree probably not elsewhere attained, all these requirements and conditions. It was built by the city of Munich at a cost of $500,000. It is conveniently located and accessible; it is in close touch with the medical department of a leading university; and it has for its field of usefulness a city of 580,000 people. It has accommodations for no bed patients of both sexes, besides a large dispensary on the ground floor for the treatment of voluntary patients who come in at stated periods, but live otherwise at home. Although opened only a few months ago, the clinic will have treated not less than 2,000 patients before the close of its first year.


"The edifice . . . was completed last year, and includes the central or administration building, with two wings, which form the front and sides of an open court or garden. In the central structure are located laboratories for pathological, chemical, and psychological studies, a fine medical library, rooms for the reception and examination of patients, and the private rooms of the director. The apparatus and facilities for every form of research connected with any question relating to preventing, detecting, and curing insanity are as elaborate and perfect as experience and up-to-date science can suggest.


"Among various special features are bathrooms, arranged with tubs in which the water can be maintained indefinitely at a given temperature, and in which excited patients may be kept without restraint for hours, to splash at will or even to sleep, using rubber air cushions as pillows -- a soothing and highly efficacious form of treatment at certain stages of mental disease. A small iron door in the wall opens into an oven, in which hot towels are always within reach, to be used in rubbing down the patient on leaving the bath.


"A ward of the ordinary size contains space for from five to ten beds and has among its equipment a small electric cooking stove for heating water or milk, preparing eggs, toast, and other food, a movable bathtub on casters, and electric lights that can be so controlled as to give any desired degree of illumination.


"The lecture room has accommodations for two hundred and forty students, and is lighted by incandescent electric lamps so placed as to project the light upward against a white ceiling, so as to give a clear, but mild, diffused light, strong enough for every purpose, but without glare. If, during a day lecture the professor wishes to use kinetoscope or magic lantern illustrations he touches a button, and black shades running in grooves at each window, drop and make the interior dark. Another knob is touched and the kinetoscope or lantern picture is thrown upon the screen and the lecture proceeds without a moment's interruption.


"The hospital is not free. Patients are divided according to their means into three classes, but the treatment and medical services are precisely the same to all, according to their condition and necessities. Patients of the first, second, and third classes pay respectively $2.38, $1.36, and 71 cents per day, everything included. Absolutely no restraint is used. All the wards are perfectly warmed, ventilated, and lighted; the walls are of bright, cheerful colors and hung with cheap but good pictures that appeal to a correct artistic taste. In the corner of each occupied ward is a seat for a nurse at a table provided with an electric light so arranged that she may read without disturbing the patients. In the wall are three small niches, each covered with a locked iron panel or door, to which the nurse has the key. By unlocking one of these doors electric light is turned on throughout the ward, either suddenly or gradually, as may be desired. Opening the second door calls the director or house physician, and the third is a time recorder, by opening which at brief stated intervals the nurse records on a dial in the director's office the fact that he or she has been awake and in constant attendance.

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