Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 February 2018
India, like many other countries in the world, for centuries held the “demonologicalconception” of insanity. As late as the eighteenth century the insane were regarded as possessed by evil spirits, and requiring drastic measures to get rid of their afflictions. Under this belief some were mercilessly flogged and others were made to drink or eat nauseating stuff. With the progress of civilization, India, like Europe, began to erect grim, sombre buildings for the treatment of her mentally afflicted, with small openings in the walls, guarded by strong iron bars; narrow corridors, dark cells and desolate compounds, where no tree, shrub or flower ever grew. Moreover, the old asylums were manned by brutal types of attendants,who were always ready to impose manacles and chains and stripes at their own free will. Insanitary conditions and semistarvation of the patients were special features of these institutions. Of recent years, however, India has been making a steady though sather slow progress in psychological medicine. The old asylums in the Provinces are now called mental hospitals, and the old buildings are either given up, or improved as far as practicable to fit in with their new names. A humanitarian hospital system for the insane has been instituted.
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