History of Medicine Introduction Over the ages, philosophers, theologians, and physicians had accepted insanity disorders within their purview. By the late 18th century, however, the first two had largely withdrawn and physicians, social activists, and the state took responsibility for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Psychiatry as a medical discipline came into being during the first years of the 19th century. The rapidly growing population of the United States during the 19th century, along with an ever increasing number of immigrants, gave rise to the need for provision for the poor, the sick, and the mentally ill. Publicly supported almshouses and hospitals were established and the special needs of the mentally ill led to the era of asylums.
Exhibition Directors' Statement The exhibition Emotions and Disease was initially developed by the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, in conjunction with the Third International Congress of the International Society for Neuroimmunomodulation which met at the National Institutes of Health in November 1996. The exhibition was intended to provide historical perspective and context for the scientific discussions and presentations at the Congress and to explain to the general public the meaning and relevance of scientific developments linking neurophysiology to the functioning of our immune systems. Using the historical approach, we could make these sophisticated scientific developments more accessible to a non-specialist audience.