Personally, I was very much surprised some years ago, while collecting material for a paper to be read before the International Guild for the Care of the Insane, to find how many things that are most modern in our methods of treating the insane, and that are among the desiderata which are universally conceded to be most necessary for the improvement of present conditions in our management of mental diseases, were anticipated by the generations of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. It is not hard, for instance, to show that such eminently desirable conditions as the open door for mild cases, the combination of the ordinary hospital with a ward for psychic cases, the colony system for the treatment of those of lower mentality, were all in existence in the Middle Ages and did good work. The colony system particularly, as it comes to us from the Middle Ages, has recently been studied very carefully, and this has given us many valuable hints as to the methods that will have to be adopted in other countries in modern times.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)

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