The Treatment of Mentally Handicapped People

Canadian Studies / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
This paper describes the treatment received by mentally handicapped people in western Canada during the years 1812-1914.

This paper provides a general history of mental illness and treatment thereof and then focuses on the treatment of mental patients in Western Canada in 1812-1914. It explains that one of the main sources for this information was from The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project which is a website documenting Canada’s history. It examines the efficiency of such a source and the accuracy of the information.
Mental illness can be defined as a disease of the mind which incorporates any illness, disorder or abnormal condition which impairs the human mind and its functioning, excluding however self-induced states of alcohol or drugs as well as transitory mental states such as hysteria or concussion (Saunders, 1996). Mentally handicapped people and the challenges that they experience can be found under section 16 of the Criminal Code. One can see that the definition makes it clear that for an accused to be mentally challenged he/she must not be able to think clearly at the time of the offense and so had no idea about the nature of the act that he/she was committing. This explanation can be extended to other walks of life where mentally handicapped people often carry out tasks that are deemed unsuitable by the society but they have no idea about the inappropriate nature of those acts. In Canada the law requires that the accused persons should have fully knowledge of the act and that what they did was inherently against the law. It has often been assumed that those people suffering from a mental disorder usually turn out to be criminals.


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