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Mr. CARLYLE. Dr. Felix, I think we see many signs that disclose that the people of the country are demanding better and more modern facilities in the treatment of the mentally ill. Do you agree with me on that?

Dr. FELIX. I do sir.

Mr. CARLYLE. There is a large program now under way in several of the States to improve these facilities.

Only last week in North Carolina a statewide bond issue was carried by a large majority in order to provide more modern and better facilities for those who are mentally ill, and I think that is true in many of the other States. So, that is encouraging.

Dr. FELIX. Yes, sir; it is.
Mr. CARLYLE. That is all.

Dr. Felix. I might say, Mr. Carlyle, and if I may, Mr. Chairman, that North Carolina is very fortunate in having one of the honored members of our profession, a man whom all of us have heard and know about, to head your mental health program down there, Dr. David Young

Mr. CARLYLE. Yes, I know Dr. Young.

Dr. Felix. You are extremely fortunate in having him, and you can expect great things from him.

Mr. CARLYLE. Dr. Young is doing spendid work in North Carolina. Dr. Felix. He certainly is; yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions, gentlemen! Mr. PRIEST. Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Priest. Mr. Priest. Dr. Felix, did I understand correctly that since 1947, when your first appropriation was made, you had placed 203 research grants? I was not sure I had that figure right.

Dr. Felix. Yes, sir; 203 is right.

Mr. PRIEST. Doctor, have they been fairly well distributed in hospitals, universities, and clinics across the country?

Dr. Felix. Yes, sir.

Of course, when you see it put on a map you get a pattern which coincides almost exactly with the distribution of the scientists in the various parts of the country. Where the people are who are interested in research is, of course, where the research money has to go. There are areas of the country where there are fewer than others, and, therefore, you will find fewer spots on the map in those places, but as far as the facilities, both physical and human, are distributed you will find a distribution which coincides with that very closely.

(The prepared statement of Dr. Felix follows:)

MENTAL ILLNESS (Prepared for the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce of the House

of Representatives, October 8, 1953, by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare)

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY FOR MENTALLY ILL The concept of public responsibility for the care of the mentally ill reaches back into antiquity. In Grecian history it is recorded that the priests of the temples assumed a responsibility for providing shelter and care for the mentally disordered. The first instance of a state institution specifically designated for the care of the mentally ill and the epileptic is recorded in Arabian history about the years 500-600 A. D. Both before and following this time, the mentally disordered

were regarded as persons possessed by the devil or by demons. As a consequence, they were persecuted, driven out into the countryside, and left to wander among the beggars, the poor, and the mendicants. In keeping with existing ideas about the cause of mental illness, it is readily understandable that these people suffered persecution and many were physically tortured and killed. In the 13th and 14th centuries isolated localities and communities became more humanitarian toward those who were poor and made their livelihood by begging, and established almshouses for those who were unable to care for themselves. Gradually this concept was extended to include the physically handicapped and the mentally ill. Almshouses had their origin in England, the most famous of which was located at Bethlehem which is remembered as the notorious "Bedlam.” With the migrations of people from the Old World to America in the 17th century, the establishment of almshouses for the indigent people was but a natural outgrowth of the culture from which they had come. Ultimately the almshouse lead to the establishment of what are known today as the municipal hospitals. As the country grew, so grew a need for hospitals. In 1752 the Pennsylvania Hospital was established by private subscription in Philadelphia as the first institution in the colonies exclusively devoted to the care of the sick. In the case of the Pennsylvania Hospital, provision was made for the first time in the colonies to provide care for the mentally ill.

About 20 years later the first institution devoted exclusively to the care of the mentally ill was established in this country, brought about by a request to the Virginia Assembly to provide a State institution for “idiots, lunatics, and other persons of unsound mind.” Thus was established the first State institution for the care of the mentally ill at Williamsburg in 1773. It is worth noting, too, that the principle of State aid was involved, for the major asylums built in this country after 1825 were to be State institutions. At this time the appeal for public support seemed logical in view of the prevailing attitude that the Government had a responsibility for poor relief since custodial institutions were likely to care for the poor. It was for this reason that by 1840 most general hospitals in the United States represented private philanthropies but that alongside them had evolved insane asylums and municipal hospitals, both of which had evolved from the concept of the almshouse. Following the example of Virginia, a list of the States providing insane asylums would include Kentucky (1824), South Carolina (1928), Virginia (second State hospital, 1828), Ohio (1830), Massachusetts (1833), New York (1836), Vermout (1836), Maine (1840), and Tennessee (1840). A few of the States continued to depend upon private hospitals for the care of the mentally ill. Generally, however, the principle was evolved by this time that it was the responsibility of the State to provide facilities for the custody, care, and treatment of the mentally ill. This pattern of governmental responsibility continues to exist to the present day. Unfortunately, the principle of providing custodial institutions for the needy poor through the almshouses persisted in the evolution of the insane asylums. Gradually this philosophy has undergone some changes so that many of the States are discarding the principle of simple custodial care and have instituted modern, up-to-date methods of treatment. The development of the intensive treatment programs, however, has been hampered by a variety of factors, including lack of facilities and personnel.

Historically the care and treatment of the mentally ill has been a public responsibility with a primary authority vested within the States and communities. The last 3 to 4 decades have seen the development of clinics for treating the less serious emotional disorders of adults and children not requiring hospitalization. A more recent development has seen the establishment of facilities in general hospitals for the early diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Other extraordinary changes have taken place. The mental institutions have begun to come out of their isolation-systematic after-care and supervision of patients on parole, social-work programs integrated with the treatment functions of the hospital, affiliation between mental and general hospitals and mental hospitals and medical schools for mutual advantage in the training of nurses and physicians, increasing use of clinical psychologists in hospitals and clinics, and systematic programs of inservice training for various classes of personnel.

THE MENTAL DISORDERS By the preventive application of psychiatric knowledge, as it is acquired, mental health problems can ultimately be solved. This does not mean that mental health should operate from an ivory tower; indeed, “mental health is everybody's business." The prevention of mental disorders is a relatively new public-health field in which psychiatrists have worked in relative isolation for too long a time. The vast amount of psychiatric morbidity is hardly recognized in the other specialties of medicine. It has been estimated that 40 percent of patients who are treated in general practice have psychiatric complications. The heart patient, who may look well but who lives under an unpredictable threat, has an important emotional life component with which he must live and his very survival may depend upon the degree of tranquility which can be brought to the problem. Any chronic disease produces conflicts and the degree of morbidity often depends more upon the individual's attitude than the disease itself. And morbidity costs money in the long run, as well as causing misery and unhappiness.

The development of new methods and techniques has already decreased morbidity in schizophrenia, manic-depression psychosis, involutional psychosis, paresis, epilepsy, and in some of the neuroses. Indeed paresis is so clearly pre ventable that it stands to be conquered in the foreseeable future. Like it, chronic alcoholism is preventable and there is an awakening of interest and research on the problem. One can reason with conviction that drug addiction and delinquency are also preventable.

Schizophrenia forms the hard core of chronic mental illnesses. We don't know the cause, but there are environmental factors. It strikes usually in early life and it contributes the largest group of hospitalized mental patients. Progress has been made in the treatinent of schizophrenia and in providing extramural medical care, but we still cannot prevent what we don't understand.

The neurosis may be said to represent almost a way of life. Treatment methods have been improved, but it would appear that preventing the develop ment of a neurosis should be much easier and more simple than helping an individual readjust to life after the neurosis has developed. The vast amount of neurotic illnesses and morbidity cannot be estimated, but we can recognize early signs and unhealthy environmental factors in the development of the neurotic pattern of life. Present knowledge is not being generally applied. Existing knowledge usually runs far ahead of application. Our knowledge is far from complete, and the number of trained personnel to apply present knowledge is inadequate.

Mental disorders of the senium have increased rather alarmingly, due largely to increase in longevity. There are social, environmental, and economic factors in precipitating a mental break in many of these old people, and early medical care can salvage many of them. Here again the lag in the application of existing knowledge is sometimes amazing. For example, we know that if an aged person lives alone, perhaps cloistered, prepares his own meals which he eats alone and has little or no social life, his early failure in adjustment, both physically and mentally, is predictable. Hospital utilization is on the increase in all spheres, partly because of the increase in the number of aged persons.

The group of intellectually subnormal citizens represents a most neglected field. Some States do not have special facilities for them either in public schools or in institutions. The educable should be given an opportunity to develop fully his potential abilities and the trainable should have the benefit of improved habit control. Even an idiot can learn to improve his habits which decreases the burden of the mother or of an institution. Between 1 and 2 percent of our population is mentally deficient. We know that this can be reduced by simple methods such as preventing birth injuries and other mechanical trauma, controlling rubella in the prospective mother and early attention to blood incompatibilties of mother and child. The association of convulsive disorders is common in this group; progress is being made and several large State institutions for epileptics have been discontinued.


The prevention of mental illness is a goal that is sought to reduce human suffering and national economic loss. As is true in the instance of many other medical problems such as cancer, heart disease, poliomyelitis, and others, the means of prevention are not yet at hand for all the mental illnesses. The cause and necessary understanding have been established for the prevention of general paresis and the psychosis associated with pellagra, a vitamin-deficiency disease. Certain infectious diseases frequently lead to brain damage with permanent changes in the personality and when the prevention of these diseases has been established, so will the brain damage and mental illnesses in these instances be prevented.

Mental illness that is, to the best of our present knowledge, psychological in development and origin is best prevented by early diagnosis and treatment. The greater knowledge needed to discover latent or less obvious mental illness and predict with accuracy the future development of mental illness before it is apparent awaits new discoveries that must come from research.

The prevention of the further progress of a mental illness, if unrecognized or untreated, must be met by trained professional personnel who are skilled in diagnosis and treatment. These individuals can make broader contributions by conveying their knowledge either as a consultant in research or in teaching. This leads greater recognition and prevention of mental illness by physicians, parents, teachers, workers in children's agencies, and others.

The increased emphasis on psychiatry and related fields in the teaching of all physicians prepares them to be better able to recognize early manifestations of personality disorders. They are those able to initiate corrective procedures in mental disorders and to refer to the special agencies or specialists in mental health those with more severe illnesses for early care and treatment.

Rehabilitation in the field of mental illness has only recently received attention. The concept of a comprehensive rehabilitation program, first developed in the area of physical illness, offers hope as another means to prevent further disability as a result of mental illness.

The promotion of mental health is a goal that is in part reached by the prevention and the treatment of mental illness. Through the knowledge attained from work with the mentally ill, much has ben learned of those factors that contribute to mental health. The main preoccupation of scientists in this field has been wtih the cause and treatment of illness. It is important to learn more of what contributes to the development of a healthy person (not just the absence of disease) as well as what contributes to a sick personality. Through continued research and training of professional people will come the means for advancement toward the goals of preventing mental illness and promoting mental health.

DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION The principal requisite in our knowledge of mental disorders is an accurate definition and classification of the separate disease processes. It is the basis for our scientific psychiatry. Without an index there would not be a starting point for the treatment of the separate psychiatric disorders or for instituting further investigation. Diagnosis is essential before treatment procedures can be instituted. However, classification in psychiatry is still incomplete and uneven. For instance, we have an exact body of information regarding general paresis, while our information regarding schizophrenia and the manic-depressive psychoses is still incomplete. While accuracy of diagnosis is essential in the treatment of the individual mental disorder, proper classification is extremely essential to a better understanding of epidemiology—the natural history and extent of mental diseases. At the present time, aside from persons who are confined to mental institutions, our information regarding the size and extent of the problem of mental disorders is inexact and incomplete. This represents an area for exploration in the immediate future.

In the treatment of mental disorders a variety of methods and techniques are employed. These range from the chemical therapies, on the one hand, through the shock therapies and psychosurgery to psychotherapy, on the other hand. In addition, nonspecific techniques such as occupational and recreational therapy, music, and bibliotherapy are employed in the treatment of mental disorders. Play therapy is effective in the treatment of the emotional disorders of children. The patient is encouraged to be an active participant in a wide range of activities, the so-called total push therapy, designed to restore him to a useful and meaningful way of living. This is in contrast to the older methods, some of which are still too prevalent, of providing simple custodial care without any attempts at treatment. The overcrowding of our hospitals and the lack of professional personnel still prevent us from providing modern advanced methods of treatinent to all persons suffering from mental disease.

It is only recently that isolated attempts to rehabilitate the mentally ill have been tried. Rehabilitation has been defined as an attempt to restore the handicapped person to the fullest mental, emotional, social, economic, and personality usefulness of which he is capable. Some hospitals have instituted programs of such a nature and continue to assist and provide support for the individual after his discharge from the hospital in order to help him in a more successful and useful adaptation in the community to which he returns. Techniques of rebabilitation also represent an area for exploration in the near future.


Intelligent planning for an integrated public health attack on mental disorders demands adequate epidemiological information. A variety of facts is needed. What is the extent of the problem—that is, how many are affected? What are the characteristics of the mentally ill as a group and as compared to the rest of the population with respect to such factors as age, sex, race, and occupation? How does mental illness develop in the individual and what factors explain its distribution in the population? What are the psychological, physiological, and socioeconomic factors that may be related to cause and course of the illness?

There is a wide gap between the facts that we have now and those that we need to have. Indeed, to answer any one of the above questions requires a major research effort. Let us consider what is needed to make a statement on the prevalence of mental illness, that is, the number of mentally ill persons as of a specified interval of time. First, we need a definition of whom we are to countwho are the mentally ill? Second, we need techniques for detecting cases. For mental disorders this is not a simple matter. We are not dealing with a single entity but with a broad variety of disorders characterized generally by abnormal patterns of behavior. Some are due to known organic etiological factors, such as syphilitic infection, cerebral arteriosclerosis, alcohol intoxication, brain trauma, or convulsive disorders; others are of psychogenic origin or without clearly defined physical cause or structural change in the brain, such as the schizophrenic and manic-depressive psychoses, the psychoneuroses, the psychosomatic disorders, and a broad group of personality disorders.

Although mental disorders are sometimes considered as chronic illnesses, many have acute and reversible phases. Thus, in addition to defining the types of abnormal behavior we wish to find, we must also specify whether we are looking for individuals who have exhibited such behavior at any time in their lives, or only during some specified period of time. Even if we were to agree on whom to count, we still have the problem of devising standard methods for case finding and diagnosis needed for separating the population into those who have a mental disorder and those who do not.

Despite difficulties of definition and case finding, estimates have been made of the extent of the problem of mental disorders. As will become apparent from the statement that follows, these data have inany shortcomings. Nevertheless, it will also become apparent that they all point to a single factmental disorders are a major cause of illness and disability in the Nation. Community surveys of preralence

At least 6 percent of the total population, 9,000,000 people, suffer from a serious mental disorder. This estimate is based on the findings of two widely quoted surveys: One done in the eastern health district of Baltimore, Md., by Lemkau, Tietze, and Cooper,' and the other in Williamson County, Tenn. Although these surveys are not entirely comparable," these findings make it clear that in both surveys persons with psychoti disorders-the illnesses which for the most part require mental-hospital care-constitute only 10 percent of the cases found. Disorders classified as psychoneuroses and personality disorders of adults and children accounted for the large bulk of all cases. Some idea of the distribution of various mental disorders in the population can be obtained from tables 1 and 2 which present the results of the two case-finding surveys. Selective Service data

A second widely cited source of prevalence data is the World War II experience of the Selective Service System. Selective Service records, as is well known, show more registrants rejected for mental and personality defects than for any other cause. Of 4.8 million rejections up to August 1, 1945, 18 percent were due to these disorders. Additional data come from studies on prevalence of medical defects made on a carefully selected sample of registrants between the ages of 18 and 44 years who were examined during the period 1910–43. These studies showed mental illness as the sixth most common defect among all registrants the sample, with a prevalence rate of 55.8 per 1,000. For

1 Lemkau, P., Tietze, C., and Cooper, M., Mental Hygiene Problems in an Urban District, Mental Hygiene, volume 25 (1941), pp. 624-646 ; volume 26 (1942), pp. 100-119, 275-288; volume 27 (1943), pp. 279-295.

2 Roth, W. F., and Luton, F. H., The Mental Health Program in Tennessee, I: Description of the Original Study Program : II: Statistical Report of a Psychiatric Surrey in a Rural County, American Journal of Psychiatry, volume 99 (1943), pp. 662-675.

3 Felix, R. H., and Kramer. M., Extent of the Problem of Mental Disorders, Annals of Political and Social Science, volume 286 (1953), pp. 5-14.

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