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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Quaker concern for the mentally ill dates back to George Fox’s healing of several persons who were ‘distracted’; in a 1669 epistle he urged Friends to provide for those who are distempered ‘so that they may not … run about the streets’. England’s York Retreat, established in 1796, was a realization of Fox’s dream. The Retreat became famous for William Tuke’s efforts with the Retreat’s superintendent (George Jepson) to use a bedrock of kindness and compassion (socio-economic manipulation to some critics) to help the sick. The two men tested contemporary science and traditional treatments to perfect ‘moral management’. This approach influenced the establishment of numerous imitators and became a positive counterpoint to the questionable treatments at private madhouses and public hospitals. Moral treatment waned, but was revived in the twentieth century under such new rubrics as ‘milieu therapy’ and the ‘open hospital’.

Keywords: Tuke, moral treatment, York Retreat, asylum reform, Friends asylum, Quaker

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