12 Shocking Treatments Used In Mental Institutes

To many people, mental institutes looked like very scary things decades and centuries ago. What people don’t realize is that these treatments were state of the art at the time. However, in the early days of mental treatment many people ended up in these facilities over normal sicknesses and illnesses, like people that suffer from epilepsy.

These days, people with mental issues get far less barbaric treatment, and doctors know the different between mental insanity and regular medical issues. But taking a look back can be an educational, although somewhat shocking, adventure in the history of mental institutes.


While the lobotomy opened up room for more research when it came to neurological signalling as it connected to mental illness, it was used before enough studying was done on it and didn’t always have the positive effect you would hope it would. However, the occasional symptoms weren’t enough to stop them from using this treatment since it was effective enough to justify any risk it posed on the patient.


A bit more invasive than lobotomy, trephination, also known as trepanation, has been used for over 7,000 years and requires a hole to be drilled into the skull. Sometimes they used an auger or a bore, and sometimes a saw.

There are beliefs that this would help relieve pressure, thus relieving things like headaches and mental illness. Similar treatments are used today from bleeding on the brain.


Hydrotherapy is an alternative therapy that is actually garnering more interest these days, for relaxing warm baths and other treatments. However, in the past people in mental institutes were gave cold treatments, also called icing. They’d be forced into freezing cold baths or showers to heal what ailed their minds.

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