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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 22(2); 2013 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2013;22(2): 529-578.
doi: https://doi.org/10.13081/kjmh.2013.22.529
식민지 조선에서의 정신병자에 대한 근대적 접근
Modern Approach to Treating Mental Patients in Colonial Chosun
Bang Hyun Lee
Institute of Social Welfare Research, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea. wineparty@hanmail.net
Received: July 1, 2013;  Accepted: July 21, 2013.  Published online: August 31, 2013.
Literature produced by the government and the private sector in the colonial era was reviewed to determine the knowledge of the people of colonial Chosun of mental illness and mental patients and the mental patient management system that they implemented or intended to implement. The results of this study show that the people of Chosun realized the need to sterilize mental patients because they considered mental patients very violent, dangerous and eugenically inferior and they believed that mental patients would eventually impede the prosperity of Chosun. The people of colonial Chosun had learned about the lifelong mental hygiene movement, which had knowledge of mental illness prevention. However, they also recognized that people who developed mental illness despite efforts to prevent such condition needed help from the modern system, especially from modern Western psychiatry. The primary responsibility to attend to mental patients was imposed on their family. The family had to understand the symptoms of mental illness according to the modern medical classification and how to deal with them. When the family could not afford to take care of its mentally ill family member due to the increase in the member's risk behavior such as frenzied-convulsive excitement, paranoia and delusion of jealousy, the family was also responsible for isolating him and connecting him with a mental hospital. The police and social workers were also responsible for observing and monitoring mental patients in their community and for connecting them with a mental hospital. The police made a list of mental patients within their area of jurisdiction and prohibited them from wandering based on the law. It was also considered desirable for mental patients who could not identify their family members to be sent to a mental hospital. Social workers were responsible for managing mental patient sanatoriums, and district commissioners sent to the police mental patients who had no family to look after them or who posed a threat to others, or else commissioned them to the government hospital. Thus, the final responsibility for mental patients was imposed on the modern Western medical team, because the district commissioners sent them to the police and the police sent them to the government mental hospital. Most educated people and government personnel in the colonial era thought modern Western psychiatry circles were responsible for mental patient management, and the Japanese empire enacted mental-health-related laws and made efforts to secure funds for the establishment of mental hospitals. As the literature at that time also show the position of the modern Western medical circle, their ambivalent attitude to mental patients must also be clarified to interpret the modern approach to treating mental patients in colonial Chosun. In this context, a research on historical figures in Japanese psychiatry, a study on the specific treatment methods used by the modern Western psychiatric team in the colonial era and their effects, and the extension of the subject period for such researches are suggested.
Key Words: Colonial Chosun, mental patients, modern, mental hygiene, eugenics, police, western psychiatry, social work
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