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Minorities in Mental Health Hospitals: Elsie Lacks

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Catherine Schricker

on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of Minorities in Mental Health Hospitals: Elsie Lacks

An Examination of Mental Health Care Cate Hendren, Emily Keator, Lauren Parham and Catherine Schricker


-1950-1955 in Crownsville Mental Hospital for the Negro Insane (death at age 15)

Certificate of Death: "Respiratory Failure, Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy" (Few) Known Facts About Elsie Lacks -Pneumoencephalography (Experimented on Elsie)

-1940's-Men in insane asylum exposed to hepatitis

-1942- Experimental Flu vaccines given to men of state insane asylum

-1963 - Children given hepatitis orally and by injection Alleged Experimentation -Long Term Cases

-Post WWII Mass exodus of psychiatrists to private and community practices

-Pressures on researchers and doctors - More treatment methods

-Post WWII Mass exodus of psychiatrists to private and community practices

-Information Given by Crownsville






-Alleged Information Experimentation on Mentally Ill Patients 1946: Truman's National Mental Health Act http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3633235/Doctors-must-do-no-harm.html http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mkg45gfkd/5-jonas-salk-medical-researcher-and-virologist-3/ What if Elsie lived today?
How might her life be different? She would have a different diagnosis and treatment
Elsie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness, and developmental problems.



Advances in epilepsy and deafness treatment. Emphasis on education and early intervention to treat developmental disabilities. Improved medication and counseling for those suffering from mental health issues. A Brief History of Mental Health c. 400 B.C.

The Greeks take a scientific approach to mental illness Middle Ages

Muslim Arabs form early asylums
Neglected or even burned at the stake
1407: First European Asylum, Valencia
Chained in dungeons with criminals Late 1700's

First major reforms: Phillipe Pinel, France
No more chains or dungeons,
Excercise and sunlight
Reforms not widespread 1800's
Poor Conditions Widespread:
Bad ventilation
No heating
No restrooms
Locked in with criminals
Chained and beaten
Ragged clothing
Poor nutrition
Rarely saw doctors Early 1900's

Undertrained and insufficient staff
Underfunded
Practically incapable of humane treatment
Psychologists
1908-9: Clifford Beers founds group that will become NMHA 1950's

Psychiatric drugs begin to appear with some success De Vise, Daniel. “Studying a Relic of a Painful Past” 12 Aug 2005. The Washington Post, Web. 2 Dec. 2012

Perkins, Clifton T. M.D. Department of Mental Hygiene Annual Report 1956. Accessed 1 Dec. 2012

Skloot, Rebecca, “Book Special Features”. Web. 1 Dec. 2012 rebeccaskloot.com

Stobbe, Mike. “Shameful Past of Medical Trials Prompts US Investigations”. The Independent March 2011 Web. 1 Dec. 2012

Wachsler, Doris Morgenstern. “A Better History of Crownsville Hospital” 27 Aug. 2005. The Washington Post. 2 Dec. 2012

http://www.mnddc.org/parallels/five/5f/2.html Bibliography 1930's
Treatment includes:
Lobotomies and other surgeries
Electro-convulsive therapy
Malaria infection
Insulin-induced comas
Drugs July 3, 1946

National Mental Health Act passed:
National Institute of Mental Health (1949)
More mental health research 1960's

Push for deinstitutionalization begins Bly, Nellie. “Nellie’s Madhouse Memoir.” American Experience: Around the World in 72 Days. PBS Online, 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Iwama, Mia. “Bertha Mason’s Madness in a Contemporary Context.” The Victorian Web. 2003. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Fink, Max, and William Karliner. “Primary Sources: Insulin Coma Therapy.” American Experience: A Brilliant Madness. PBS Online, 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

“Module 2: A Brief History of Mental Illness and the U.S. Mental Health Care System.” Unite For Sight. Unite For Sight, Inc., 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

“Timeline: Treatments for Mental Illness.” American Experience: A Brilliant Madness. PBS Online, 2002. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. Caveat:
-Experimentation not always mal-intent.- Not necessarily the terrible treatments that are rumored The History of Crownsville State Hospital 1910 Crownsville is founded as "Maryland's Hospital for the Negro Insane." 1911 The first 12 Crownsville patients are admitted to the hospital; originally they lived in an old farmhouse. 1913 With the help of patient labor, Crownsville expands into three larger buildings. 1914-15 Percentage of deaths among admitted patients reaches 38% 1921 Patient population reaches 521; hospital is at this point understaffed. 1930's Insulin Shock therapy and treatments involving malaria therapy are introduced. 1948-49 The Baltimore Sun releases a series of Articles entitled "Maryland's Shame." 1948 First African-American staff members are hired. 1959 By 1959 45% of staff is African-American. 1964 Dr. George Phillips becomes First African-American hospital superintendent appointed at Crownsville. 1962-63 Racial integration of the patient population takes place. 2004 Crownsville closes after 94 years of operation. Deinstitutionalization, a movement away from state-run mental institutions and toward community health clinics, occurred in the 1950s and 60s

• “Community Mental Health Centers Act” (CMHC) passed,1963

At the same time, developmental disability treatment focused on reform, and in the 1970s pushed to shut down many institutions
Now, different diagnosis and treatment for mentally ill patients and those suffering from developmental disabilities. Elsie would experience new notions of disability Today, one in six American children has a developmental disability.

Bigger societal mandate for mental health and developmental disability care. She would be living in a different world In 1955, both mental health problems and developmental disabilities were extremely stigmatized. As a poor African-American female child, Elsie was among the most vulnerable and the least likely to receive fair treatment.


With increased racial and gender equality, improved diagnosis and treatment, better understanding of disability, changed government policy, and increased societal acceptance, Elsie might have led a very different life. Elsie would not be in Crownsville

Terhune, P. S. (2005), African-American Developmental Disability Discourses: Implications for Policy Development. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 2: 18–28. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-1130.2005.00004.x

http://www.eoutcome.org/default.aspx?pg=337
http://www.nmha.org/centennial/history.html
http://www.mnddc.org/parallels/five/5f/2.html
http://ddc.ohio.gov/pub/TripleJ.pdf
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/aidd/
http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/lib/detail.html?id=1719
http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/lib/detail.html?id=1732
http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001523.htm
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/mental-retardation/overview.html
http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2543 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001734/
http://blogs.plos.org/takeasdirected/2010/05/31/mar
Google Images Today, treatment for the formerly institutionalized is administered primarily through out patient care and group living facilities. Government organizations like the MRDD, non-governmental organizations, and private groups run these efforts. Generally, there is a greater emphasis on community involvement and education. Elsie Lacks and
Crownsville Mental Hospital
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