It is always a tendency to consider that psychiatric patients pose a threat to the society and the people around them. However, cases have been reported of incidences where a psychiatric patient was maltreated at the hands of people who were to help them deal with issues affecting their lives. These reports date as far back as the eighteenth and nineteenth century when the practice was still rampant. Zimbardo (2007) asserts that, the mistreatment of psychiatric patients is a practice that dates back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Since they were rejects in the society, these patients were never checked up on or visited with their kin leading them at the hands of physicians and other medical practitioners. This paper, therefore, presents an essay on the historical maltreatment of psychiatric patients.
According to Butcher, Hooley, and Mineka (2014), physical and sexual abuses are some of the experiences that patients in these institutions have been forced to undergo. The medical staffs in the hospitals have taken advantage of the situations of the patients. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are considered a mark in history where many immoral practices were being practiced. A high number of such reports were made in the public areas and centers where such habits could be prone like brothels. However, cases in the hospitals and other care centers were also reported where patients were raped many times by their care providers.
The setting of the hospitals was designed to house the psychiatric patient in the farthest corner of the building. The notion at the time was that the psychiatric patients could be a threat to other patients. Similarly, the people who were tasked with the responsibility of taking care of the psychiatric patients were to operate on directions of the head that was less often present. Therefore, the head of the area who could suppress the continuation of the habit was not present during the times when such habits were being practiced.
However, in learning about the reasons behind these habits, a number of factors are highlighted. Among the leading factors to consider as the cause of maltreatment of patients are personal factors. The care providers who treated the patients badly are considered to have participated in such behaviors on their own. People perceive a situation differently, and their actions are also different considering their background or sheer pleasure. Similarly, curiosity can be attributed as another trigger for the caretakers to indulge in such activities.
However, according to Zimbardo (2007), the background of the patient is considered a great influence in their habits and characters. The ability of an individual to empathize with a fellow is strongly related to their backgrounds and the way they were brought up. On the other hand, an individual can sympathize with a fellow in problem but will never take the step to help. A similar account is seen in the situation where the people who practiced such behavior on patients who were helpless could have been treated the same when they were young.
The tradition during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in a large part was supportive of immorality and unethical behaviors. Very few institutions took seriously cases of immorality or mistreatment. The victims were threatened and for fear of their lives, they had no other avenue to channel their grievances. In the psychiatric wards and hospitals, the patients were poorly treated and then promised an early release or privileges that the other patients were not afforded. However, these promises were never fulfilled, and the same mistreatment done to the patients repeatedly. The perpetrators lacked strict supervision and monitoring for their behaviors, which promoted their indulgence in these habits.