A History of Helping



Riding the Waves of change



Prehistoric civilizations; earliest records of helpful treatments can be traced back to the stone age. Through cave drawing a treatment called Trepanning

l. A hole was cu in the skull to allow a for the escape of evil spirits . In this early era most human problems were attributed to devils, demons or other evil spirits. Demonology and animism [ belief that spirits inhabit various inanimate objects.


Early Civilizations;


Prior to 450 bc the world was believed to be governed by supernatural spirits. During the Golden age of Greece a number of philosophers began to put forth new beliefs concerning human nature. Hypocrites [460-377 BC] introduced the belief that diseases were physical in nature rather than caused by spirits. At this point this look at what was now about the world. Plato had proposed the idea of Plato's cave.

Rene' Descartes [1596-1650]-reductionism to the smallest components. [know components]


John Locke [1632-1704] information comes in behavioral in base


George Berkeley [1685] thinking and ideas built on information gathered an created by knowledge


David Hume [1711-1776] impressions ideas were mental experiences.


James Mill [1773-1836] behavioral external stimuli and knowledge was the accumulation of elements


John Staurt Mill [1806-1873] mental chemistry [biological approach]


The Middle ages.


The church and its doctrine aspired to a more powerful position and espoused the belief that the wealthy or those with adequate resources had a duty or responsibility to help the less fortunate. The rich and poor developed social roles and expectations. During this period little interest was had in why or the reasons for poverty. As the church developed in human services the overall climate of the Middle Ages was marked by extremes. Gradually the disadvantaged cam to be classified according to whether they physically could work or were unit for therefore establishing norms of those "worthy" of receiving services.


The Renaissance


The government became more powerful and the feudal system began to go away and the "Middle Class" began to grow. under Henry the VIII of England the government formally took over the human service functions and Elizabethan Poor Law was established in 1601. A system was started; first the family was to provide then the state though the local communities. As a result of these Poor Laws classification of the disadvantage was established. This was seen as 3 categories.

      1. the poor who were capable of work

2. the poor who were incapable of work due to age, physical disability, or motherhood

      3. orphaned or abandoned children who became wards of the state.

The poor could be forced to work in state operated workhouse. Massive over crowding, filth and inadequate food and sanitary conditions existed. Also, the "ALMSHOUSE" [poor house] were established for other categories. the conditions again were deplorable.

 Elizabethan Poor Laws

Industrial Revolution

By the 1800's the industrial revolution was gathering momentum and therefore creating a movement from he rural areas to the urban areas and resulting in the change of the numbers of individuals needing aid. Prior to this movement communities were smaller and the numbers of those who need some sort of HS

1820 John Griscom established the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism whose aim was to investigate the habits and circumstance of the poor and to suggest plans by which the poor could help themselves.


1877 Charity Organization Society and English invention was adopted by many American cites starting in Buffalo NY. This organization attempted to get other agencies to join together to provide direct services to individuals and families.


*worth noting the movement toward organizing and learning about the problems the people needing HS.


      Discuss the times in our society ie the advent of the union movement which stemmed from advocating for the worker. There became the movement of advocacy for the dis- advantaged. It was slow as the disadvantaged did not have power. As noted earlier John Grisom aimed at the circumstances that lead to poverty.


            {The thought that environment and situation may have something to do with poverty and the disadvantaged was increasing.} If we look at science and philosophy and the trends that were happening during that time. Medicine was making new discoveries and finding cures for illness and limited prevention. the science movement was beginning to focus on prevention.


1776 Adam Smith in his book "The Wealth of Nations" argued that Human Services was a waste and misguided attempt that would hinder people and society. John Calvin presented that the poor and disadvantage should be left as they are because God had divinely ordained this position for them. Herbert Spenser [England] expounded Social Darwinism and used the argument of natural selection and the less fittest shouldn't survive.


Early reform movements in the US


Universities began to include social work training and in 1898 a training course was offered to charity workers. Jane Adams in 1885 established Hull House which provided immediate help for those in need. help such s temporary shelter, food, medical.

The movement of institutionalization gained acceptance [out of growth of disadvantaged] a formalized system of professional helpers was more or less created.


Prior to this movement the social programs and the help was done by "do gooders" individuals who primarily wanted to something for the poor out of Christian belief or social consciousness. Problem was there was little if any consistency nor research...


The Depression...

      Stockmarket crash resulted in governmental programs to meet the increasing needs of the growing population of the disadvantaged. The private sector was unable to keep up. Government began to look at the idea that it was its responsibility to "look after the poor".

Mental Health Services Since the Renaissance


Again referring back the ideas or belief that individuals with mental illnesses were possessed or deserved of their illness treatment was best grim. Early asylums were basically there to keep the mentally ill away from others. There were no guidelines nor policies for care or treatment. note worthy is people could be sent to mental institutions or prison or the poor house without regard as to what they needed or deserved.

Following the French Revolution 1792 a physician named Phillipe Pinel became director of a mental institution in Paris. He thought the "insane" could be cured and began to unchain, feed and tend to the basic needs of the "patients." Slowly this movement began to spread and in 1813 a British Physician named Samual Tutle began to advocate and reform treatment of the mentally ill. This movement was not always successful with society at large. Dorothea Dix in mid 19th century in the US began a advocacy campaign to treat the mentally ill and to change the attitudes toward the mentally ill from seeing them as no different from paupers or criminals to seeing them as ill and another ill person they needed hospitals and treatment. by the time her career ended 32 mental hospitals were built in the US


The Era of Humanitarian Reform;


1950's the pharmacological revolutions and the idea [economics played an important part] that it would be cheaper and better to treat people in the communities. The 1960's was an important era for the mental health field--1963 the COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH ACT was signed into law. it allocated funds for comprehensive mental health centers. An other important development began in the 1960's was in order to meet the increasing need of hs, the generalist human services worker and the paraprofessional worker began to be viewed as significant and important. Two year and four year programs began springing up in the colleges and jr colleges across the nation.


Louise Johnson and Charles Schwartz emphasize 3 societal changes that are affecting our societies response to human needs.


      1. Population shifts in size, urban rural residence, and age distribution

      2. Growth in dependence on monetary economy

      3. Changes in family structure and functioning

Brills 9 forces

The History of Mental Illness: A MontFort College Documentary 

Return to home