Am J Psychiatry 164:4, April 2007 581 Images in Psychiatry ajp.psychiatryonline.org The Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island and the New York Press A t the beginning of the 19th century, industrialization, urban-ization, and immigration contributed to the explosive growth of New York City. Accompanying this growth was a burgeoning underclass of convicts, the poor, the sick, and the insane. A policy of institutional-ization was adopted to manage this group. In 1828, New York City purchased an island in the East River from the Blackwell family to build a jail and an asylum. When it opened in 1839, the asylum on Blackwell’s Island was New York’s first publicly funded mental hospi-tal and the first municipal mental hospital in the United States. It was designed to be a state-of-the-art institution based on the theories of moral treatment. Fundamental to its success was an orga-nized and orderly environment. Although in the past, little effort was made to differentiate between types of mental illness, according to the tenets of moral treatment, such distinctions were imperative. As Dr. John McDonald, a physician involved with the design of the new asylum, wrote, “The indiscriminate mingling of the mild and furious, clean and filthy, convalescent and idiotic, need only be witnessed to be deprecated.” He continued: “Classification is now justly consid-ered by almost all persons of experience of the first importance in the
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course PSYCH SY BEH 102 taught by Professor Raymondw.novaco during the Spring '10 term at UC Irvine.