The language of madness has long been used to diagnose people, but more significantly, the language of madness reflects the morals and political views of society. Initially, there was no distinction between different types of mental illness. As the mental health profession, and the public at large, began to better understand mental health, distinctions between types of insanity were made. Changes in the language of mental health reflect a shift in ideas, and the language has been modified to reflect changing views of patients.

Mental Health Specific Terms:

Alcohol: During the nineteenth century alcohol was used as a form of treatment in asylums. Overindulgence in alcohol could also result in the admittance of people to asylums, whereas withdrawal from Alcohol can cause psychosis, fits and delirium tremens.   Previous page

Catatonic or Manic Excitement: A current day definition of a type of schizophrenia. The patient will be in a state of almost complete immobility, which is characterized by mutism, extreme compliance, preceded or interrupted by episodes of excessive motor activity and excitement. Patients are generally impulsiveand unpredictable.   Previous page

Chloroform: Was discovered in July 1831 by American physician Samuel Guthrie. Chloroform was often used in asylums as a sedative.   Previous page

Criminally Insane or Moral Defectives: According to the definition in the early 1900s these people could not function in society as they were potentially dangerous to themselves and others.   Previous page

Depression: A mood or emotional state that is marked by feelings of low self-worth or guilt, and a reduced ability to enjoy life. Depression is considered to be serious if the depressed mood is disproportionately long or severe. Depression was previously referred to as melancholia.   Previous page

Feeble Minded: Defined in 1900 as borderline normal or individuals of below average intelligence. This definition eventually evolved into the current definition of mentally disabled.   Previous page

Hebephrenic: The term was first used in 1871 and is now referred to as disorganized schizophrenia. Symptoms include shallow and inappropriate responses, bizarre behaviour, false beliefs (delusions) and false perceptions (hallucinations).   Previous page

Hysterectomies: The surgical removal of the complete uterus.   Previous page

Idiot: Used in the early 1900s, idiots were believed to suffer from what we now call developmental disabilities.   Previous page

Insomnia: The inability to sleep, and is often caused by mental or physical disorders. If it frequently occurs insomnia is proved to be harmful to the body.   Previous page

Insulin: Discovered in 1921 by Canadian Dr. Fredrick Banting and his assistant Charles Best, insulin is most well known for its use by those with diabetes. In asylums insulin was used for shock therapy, which produced both comas and convulsions. This use was discovered by Manfred Sakel.   Previous page

Kirkbride Plan: Plan devised in the mid-19th century by American doctor Thomas Kirkbride. He believed asylums should be designed as a rational, highly structured space with a pleasant atmosphere. Recreational space, as well as extensive fields, were important additions for the practice of moral treatment.   Previous page

Lunatic: The term lunatic was used in approximately the same time as the term idiot, though its roots are much older dating back to the medieval period. It developed out of the idea that those suffering from mental illness were moon struck, meaning they suffered fits of insanity because of the lunar cycle.   Previous page

Mania: Abnormally elevated mood state. a mild form in mania that does not require hospitalization is termed hypomania. Mania that also features symptoms of depression is called manic-depressive psychoses.   Previous page

Manic-depressive psychoses: The term was first used in 1896 and is now known as bipolar disorder. Symptoms include severe and recurrent depression or mania with abrupt or gradual onsets and recoveries. The state of mania and depression may alternate cyclically. It is thought to be an inherited trait.   Previous page

Metrazol: A trademark drug, which is from the pentylenetetrazol family and is used to induce seizures in patients during shock therapy. The treatment was developed by Ladislaus Meduna a young neropathologist in Budapest. Meduna used a Metrazol instead of Insulin to produce the convulsions. Like insulin, Metrazol was given by intravenous injection. Before the patient started to convulse, he or she would often experience feelings of doom or panic.   Previous page

Morphine: Morphine was first isolated from opium. Morphine is most often used today as a powerful painkiller, but it can also relive fear and anxiety as well as producing a state of euphoria. Initially it was used both to sedate patients and induce long periods of sleep.   Previous page

Neurosyphilis: Neurological complications in the final phase of syphilis, which can include psychosis, pain, and loss of motor functions.   Previous page

Occupational Therapy: Is a form of treatment for both physical and mentally disabled persons that advocates useful and meaningful activities to improve the social well-being of patients. Occupational therapists believe that social activities can offer therapeutic release to patients with mental illness.   Previous page

Opium: A narcotic drug made from the unripe seeds of the opium poppy. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century opium was frequently used as a painkiller and sedative.   Previous page

Penicillin: In 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the effect of penicillin on bacterial cultures ushering in a new age of infection treatment. In 1943 Dr. John Mahoney discovered the effectiveness of the drug in treating syphilis.   Previous page

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The preferred terminology to describe the symptoms experienced following a traumatic event.   Previous page

Potassium Bromide: Was used as a sedative in asylums. In its natural form it is very corrosive so it must be administered as a salt and combined with elements such as potassium.   Previous page

Quinine: A bitter crystalline alkaloid from cinchona bark, commonly used in the treatment of malaria.   Previous page

Raging Individuals: Used interchangeably with the term idoit in the 1900s, raging individulas believed to suffer from what we now call developmental disabilities.   Previous page

Schizophrenia: Common symptoms include: hallucinations, delusions, blunted emotions, disordered thinking, and a withdrawal from reality. No single cause of schizophrenia has been found and its diagnosis and interpretation still remains highly controversial. Schizophrenia is commonly treated with antipsychotic drugs, psychotherapy and support therapy. Swiss psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler, first used the term "schizophrenia" in 1911.   Previous page

Senile: In the early 1900s a number of elderly people were admitted to the mental health care system. Many of the patients admitted had no relatives or their relatives were financially and emotionally unable to care for them at home. Many of these patients suffered from dementia, senility, or Alzheimer's disease, and had no other place to go.   Previous page

Shell Shock: Accepted as a psychiatric term in February 1915. Originally believed that men suffering from shell shock were affected by the physical concussion of an exploding shell. Describes a range of symptoms experienced by soldiers in the First World War, including loss of sight or speech, uncontrollable spasms, and severe anxiety.   Previous page

Traumatic Neurosis: Also known as "shell shock" in the First World War. Refers to the onset of mental illness following an especially traumatic event, such as a train collision, the sinking of a ship, or the experiences of front line combat.   Previous page

Wassermann Test: In 1906 Wasserman, Bruck, and Nessier developed the first complement fixation test which could detect syphilitic infection through analysis of blood or spinal fluid.   Previous page

People and Contextual Terms:

Alienist: A term used in the 19th century to refer to physicians who specialized in the treatment of mental disorders; the modern day term is psychiatrist.   Previous page

American Civil War: A conflict between the Northern and Southern States, 1861-1865. Medics observed psychological side-effects of prolonged warfare.   Previous page

Balkans War: A series of wars in south-eastern Europe, 1912-1913. The intensity of these wars foreshadowed the industrialization of the First World War. Symptoms of traumatic neurosis observed among soldiers.   Previous page

Boer War: A conflict between the Dutch settlers (Boers) and English settlers in South Africa, 1899-1902.   Previous page

English Poor Law: Largely consolidated in 1601, this law provided a parish-run system of relief for the deserving poor, by introducing a local poor tax. The deserving poor were considered the young, elderly, and the ill. Conversely, under these Poor Laws the undeserving poor (criminals, able-bodied men, vagrants) were treated harshly. In 1834, the Law was reformed, making workhouses the primary source of relief.   Previous page

Enlightenment: A term used to describe an intellectual and philosophical movement that criticized traditional society standards during the 1700s. It focused on ideals such as morality, reason, liberty and individuality.   Previous page

Dorothea Dix: Born in 1802, this social reformer from Massachusetts is known for her investigations, into the care of individuals with mental illness during the 1840s. Her careful documentation along with her constant devotion for change resulted in an increased awareness for the need of asylums across the country.   Previous page

First World War: Conflict principally in Europe fought between the principle powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy versus Britain, France, and Russia, 1914-1918. A vicious stalemate on the western front allowed the development of tanks, gas warfare, and war planes. Soldiers severely psychologically and physically affected.   Previous page

Gothic Revival: British style of architecture that grew in popularity in Canada and the United States in the 19th century. This style was created in response to the classical style and was influenced by the medieval Gothic cathedral tradition. Features include heavy ornamentation, lancet windows with pointed arches and steeply pitched gable roofs.   Previous page

Julius Wagner-Jaureeg:While completing his residency in 1883, Waggner-Jauregg noticed that one of his female patients experienced a remission of her psychosis after contracting erysipelas, a streptococcal infection. This led him to hypothesize that fever could treat psychosis. His original tests were performed using tuberculin, with a high rate of remission. Wagner-Jauregg stopped this method in 1909 as tuberculin was considered toxic, and returned to the malaria method leading to the first cure for neurosyphilis.   Previous page

Ladislaus Joseph von Meduna: Ladislaus Joseph von Meduna was born in Hungary in 1896. He studied medicine in Budapest between 1914 to 1921. His interest in neurology eventually led to his appointment at the Hungarian Interacademic Institute for Brain Research, in Budapest, where he studied the relationship between epilepsy and schizophrenia.   Previous page

Manfred Sakel: A Polish neurophysiologist and psychiatrist, Sakel developed Insulin Shock therapy in 1933. This therapy would be the first of its kind, eventually replaced by metrazol and finally electroconvulsive therapy which is still used today. However, the efficacy of Sakel's process has never been proven.   Previous page

Moral Reform Movements: Spawned by 19th century society's obsession with morality, these were organized campaigns against sexual promiscuity, prostitution, and other sinful behaviour in order to promote purity and good behaviour among young people. Primarily aimed at women, many reform societies were formed all over North America and Western Europe. Ironically, while they promoted the ideal of women as wife, mother, and homemaker, moral reform societies were most often led by women, and offered them positions of power outside the home.   Previous page

Philippe Pinel (born 1745): A physician during the French Revolution, Pinel believed that occupying a patient's hours with work and organized activities would strengthen their sense of reason. Eventually, he hoped, with a regimented schedule, patients would be able to return to society. Pdiinel was one of the first to believe that an asylum could offer psychological therapy as opposed to long term custody of individuals with mental illness.   Previous page

Russo-Japanese War: A war fought between the empires of Russia and Japan for control in East Asia, 1904-1905. Russian medics developed military psychology, but this foundation was largely ignored by the western world.   Previous page

Second World War: Multiple theatres of war, including the Pacific Front, the North African Campaign, and the European Front. Fought between 1933-1945, though it is often principally considered to have been between 1939-1945. Conflict especially deadly for combatants and civilians alike, as this war was especially mechanized.   Previous page

Social Darwinism: The belief that the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, i.e. "natural selection," can be used to explain the mental development of different races. For example, Race A is inherently more intelligent than Race B, thus Race B will eventually become extinct. Social Darwinism has often been linked with eugenics theory, and was most popular in the mid- to late nineteenth century, but fell out of fashion in the twentieth century following advances in natural science and because of its use by individuals such as Adolf Hitler.   Previous page

Temperance: The Temperance movement gained popularity in North America in the mid 1800s. Members of the movement called for total abstinence from alcohol, often on the basis of moral or religious values.   Previous page

Victorian: The period in the nineteenth century during which Queen Victoria reined Britain.   Previous page

Western Fair: This is an annual event held in London since 1868. Every September, thousands of people participate in the ten day fair that hosts exhibits from across Southwestern Ontario featuring farming and animals. It also presents a variety of concerts for the public to see.   Previous page

William Tuke (1732-1832): Tuke was a Quaker from York, England, who founded a private asylum that practiced humane methods of dealing with people with mental illnesses. His asylum is known for popularizing the term Moral Treatment.   Previous page

Medical Abbreviations

M.B: Bachelor of Medicine  Previous page

M.D: Doctor of Medicine  Previous page

C.M: Master of Surgery  Previous page

Phm.B: Bachelor of Pharmacy  Previous page

B.Sc (Med.) Bachelor of Science of Medicine  Previous page

D.P.H: Diploma of Public Health  Previous page

LMCC: Licentiate of Medical Council of Canada  Previous page

FRCPC: Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada  Previous page

FRCSC: Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of Canada  Previous page