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Influenced by the writings of Locke and Rousseau, the French Revolution (1792-1802) began the battle for recognition of the innate dignity and worth of all human beings. At the heart of the revolution was the belief that one is worthy of dignity not because of wealth or status, but simply because one is a human being.


Philip Pinel (1745-1826), the leading French psychiatrist of his day, was the first to say that the "mentally deranged" were diseased rather than sinful or immoral. In 1793, he removed the chains and restraints from the inmates at the Bicetre asylum, and later from those at Salpetriere. Along with the English reformer William Turk, he originated the method of "moral management," using gentle treatment and patience rather than physical abuse and chains on hospital patients.

The French Revolution
The French Revolution

A broad array of services provided in a humane environment replaced the prison-like treatment of persons with disabilities. Pinel also classified types of mental illness, pioneered individual case histories and systematic record keeping, and emphasized vocational and work experience.