• Linda Spreeman
  • Mental Health Treatment 1907-1930 - NJ State Lunatic Asylum
Mental Health Treatment 1907-1930 - NJ State Lunatic Asylum
Contributor
Written by
Linda Spreeman
September 2015
Contributor
Written by
Linda Spreeman
September 2015

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I watched a recent TV show whereby the practice of the day for someone admitted to a medical establishment for mental reasons was to – incredibly – pull all of their teeth.  Every single one of the teeth, no matter how old or young.

The practice in question was based on the work of a Dr. Henry Cotton, MD.  Not only did he prescribe this procedure for admitted patients at his hospital at the time called the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum, but he did it proactively (in his mind) and astonishingly on his own children who had nothing wrong with their teeth or their minds.

His incredible, and unsubstantiated belief was that bacteria from teeth caused insanity and he instituted a practice whereby his staff were to pull teeth to alleviate the problem.    And, even worse, if a patient was not cured by removing all their teeth, then he removed other organs that he believed may have harbored infections.  These included anything from tonsils, testicles, colons, etc.

Thankfully this infection causing psychosis theory practice fell out of favor in the 1930’s.

I didn’t believe it until I read about this was an actual practice that is documented as fact on several websites.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Cotton_(doctor)

http://www.wired.com/2014/10/knick-finale-medical-history/

http://www.wired.com/2014/10/knick-finale-medical-history/

http://www.oddlyhistorical.com/2014/06/10/infectious-insanity-dr-henry-cotton-practice-surgical-bacteriology/

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