Water Treatments

In the 19th and early 20th century, water treatments of various kinds were all the rage with wealthy Americans. They traveled to spas, hot springs and steam rooms for treatment of all their ills, real or imagined. It is not surprising that 19th century asylums relied so heavily on water treatments.

covered baths
Photo of display by Pat Deegan

 
This first image is from the Winnebago State Hospital Museum in Wisconsin. Note that the baths are sealed over so that the patients cannot get out on their own.

high pressure water treatment
Photo of display by Pat Deegan

 
This image portrays a more forceful form of water treatment. It is a display at the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

steam bath
Photo from the archives at
Milledgeville by Pat Deegan

 
Three female inmates partake of steam baths at the Milledgeville State Asylum in Georgia. Note again that they cannot escape without aid.

forced bath
Photo of display by Pat Deegan

 
This photograph of a forced bath, including an enema, is displayed by the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

spread eagle cure

 
The patient shown here partakes of "The Spread Eagle Cure" as pictured by Ebenezer Haskell in The Trial of Ebenezer Haskell. When Haskell escaped from the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, he organized and led an institution reform movement. His 1869 book sparked changes at institutions around the country and the world. Haskell was particularly concerned that no one be railroaded into asylums as he had been, "simply on the word of one relative."

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