Around 1800, a movement arose in Europe that soon spread to America, called “moral treatment”, taught a service approach, especially to those with mental disorders, that stood in strong positive contrast to their then-prevailing very negative interpretation and treatment, as if they were menaces or even sub-human. Moral treatment emphasized culturally normative environments, high expectancies, much active engagement in valued activities and routines of life, the minimization of both physical restraints and of drugs, and the importance of not “medicalizing” mental afflictions, i.e, not interpreting them as diseases. In many ways, moral treatment was a forerunner of the normalization principle and Social Role Valorization (SRV) in our day. For a short while, it had spectacular success in habilitating people, but was eventually defeated by the materialistic paradigm of psychiatry that spread to other service domains as well. The presentation will explain moral treatment, draw parallels with SRV, and point out some lessons from this almost-unknown positive episode in the history of mental services. At the end of the presentation, there will be time for questions and discussion.
International SRV Conference