Father of Modern Psychiatry Thomas Kirkbride

Learn a little about the advent of modern psychiatry. Thomas Kirkbride was an absolute revolutionary in designing state of the art hospitals at the turn of the century.

?Kirkbride buildings were developed around the mental health therapeutic approach which was known as moral treatment at the end of the nineteenth century.  These picturesque buildings, frozen in time, were erected as a safe haven for the suffering population of the mentally ill. Mental health care had finally come to the realization that a smelly dungeon wasn’t going to cure anyone, so they paid great attention to creating a thoroughly therapeutic backdrop for these patients and built these hospitals on grounds away from the outside so these people could get well in their own safe environment. Kirkbride was a pioneer, in my opinion.   Of course our favorite party, the Republicans didn’t think we should spend money on mentally ill. They figured we could just thrust them into the streets where they could be homeless and unproductive. That’s why you see so many people today walking the streets talking to themselves making a living as a hooker or a panhandler. Way to go Reagan!!! God bless his soul, wait, did he have one? Few of these gorgeous structures have been preserved, which I think is a tragedy.

Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride was a founding member of the AMSAII the predecessor of the American Psychiatric Association. He was secretary, then later, president. Whence, Kirkbride Plan was popularized and implemented. He had a huge influence on the psychiatric community. Kirkbride was a founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII) —forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association—serving first as secretary, then later as president. Through this association and in his writings, Kirkbride promoted a standardized method of asylum construction and mental health treatment, popularly known as the Kirkbride Plan, which significantly influenced the entire American asylum community during his lifetime.

He was loved but some, hated by many, respected by all. He fought for what he believed in and was the first notable doctor to realize you can’t treat an ailing person like shit. Somebody actually hated him enough to try and kill him. But, those who he treated had a great deal of respect for him. Dr. Kirkbride married a patient he had treated when his wife died. This goes to show he truly believed mental patients were people of true self worth, and they were sick, not crazy. He died in 1883 at the ripe age of 74. He actually lived on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane at the time of his death.

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