Research Article| Volume 12, ISSUE 6, P301-310, December 1998

A tale of two centuries: Voices of the past and present

  • Wanda K. Mohr
    Address reprint requests to W.K. Mohr Ph.D., R.N.C., F.A.A.N., Assistant Professor, Nursing of Children, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 420 Guardian Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
    School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
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      This article compares the reported experiences of children and adolescents receiving inpatient treatment in contemporary psychiatric hospital settings with those of women institutionalized in mental hospitals from 1840 to 1945. Qualitative data include case study material from former psychiatrically hospitalized patients and archival narratives. Analysis includes matching themes from in-depth interviews with archival narratives. Nine representative experiences emerged and are presented in a typology under broader themes of structure, process, and outcome. Similarity of patient experiences over two centuries leads to questions about the meaning of advances in understanding mental illnesses in the context of attitudes, biases, and staff behavior toward patients that remains disturbingly unchanged.


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