When Mary Todd Lincoln’s Son Had Her Declared Insane

One can imagine the flurry of preparations Dr. Richard J. Patterson, his wife, and their staff of nurses undertook in late May of 1875 when they received news that they were about to admit their most important patient to date. 

The doctor had dedicated the last decade of his life to building a sanitarium that embodied his progressive mental health philosophy.

Decades before Nellie Bly’s infamous 1887 exposé Ten Days in a Mad-House would shine a light on the horrors occurring at one New York insane asylum, Patterson was developing a treatment plan based on “rest, diet, baths, fresh air, occupation, diversion, change of scene, no more medicine than… absolutely necessary, and the least restraint possible” for his patients struggling with mental health maladies. 



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