Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Joseph A. Novembe


Treatment and understanding of mental illness has vastly changed in the past century and a half, leading many historians and psychiatrists to puzzle over the logic and motivations driving the once-abundant mental institutions known as insane asylums. Though a great deal of literature has emerged in this burgeoning historical field, few have looked at the diagnostics used by psychiatrists of the past to see what they reveal about the former system of mental health. This paper uses the South Carolina State Hospital as a case study to demonstrate how diagnostic trends can be used to understand the gender and racial perceptions that physicians at these institutions applied to their work.