The time is almost within the memory of living persons when it was deemed not only lawful but proper to confine persons afflicted with mental disease in dungeons and with chains, and to subject them to beating, at the discretion of their keepers, in order to subdue their senseless fury and drive away their delusions.1 The notions of an ignorant and barbarous age justified such treatment, but the common law on the subject has been so much modified in the greater intelligence of the present century that opinions as to how much of the old rules remain must be expressed with some degree of hesitation. Moreover, new cases are constantly arising so peculiar as to convince us not only that much yet remains to be learned on the general subject of insanity, but also that it is difficult to prescribe, either judicially or by statute, the proper rules for the government, care, and custody of the unhappy persons who are afflicted with mental disorder.
Cooley, Thomas M. "Confinement of the Insane." Southern L. Rev. 6 (1880): 568-85.