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Evaluation of Clifford Whittingham Beers

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 2182 words Published: 18th May 2020

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1. Introduction

Clifford Whittingham Beers was a front-runner and innovator in the field of social welfare and mental health hygiene. Beers was known as being the founder of a prevalent movement known in history as The Mental Health Association. Spending time in multiple mental-health facilities, Beers is famously known for writing a book entitled A Mind that Found Itself. According to The Clifford Beers Story: The Origins Of Modern Mental Health Policy, it states the following: “He condemns the abusive behavior of attendants and lack of supervision exerted by the physicians who should have helped to protect him and other patients who could not comply with dehumanizing hospital routines, but he also acknowledged his own illness and showed considerable respect for the physicians’ knowledge and abilities” (Friedman, n.d.). In other words, Mr. Beers provides an insider’s perspective of both pros and cons associated with his time spent in mental-health facilities, claiming the improper treatment of care for patients while blending respect for educated doctors. Attending Yale University, Clifford Whittingham Beers was an intellectual individual who could not be stopped in sharing his experience related to his illnesses and what he witnessed while being taken care for. With the book in mind, Beers sought out to reform mental healthcare through approaching a hierarchy of individuals in power, including elected officials and politicians, affluent philanthropists, etc. His publication of the book, A Mind that Found Itself, became a leading pathway for Mental Hygiene Improvements. Because of Mr. Beers and his connections, a gateway for funding institutions with Beer’s philosophical ideology, resulted in the creation of John Hopkins University, a school that still stands today.

2. Early Years and Education (evaluated on K1.K5A).

Clifford Whittingham Beers was born on the 30th of March 1876, to Robert and Ida Beers, in the state of Connecticut. Beers lived a typical childhood. This included attending public school, taking school assessments, and being significantly noted for scoring at a higher range than his typical peers. In 1897, Clifford Whittingham Beers graduated from the ivy-league school of Yale University. Fast forwarding to the year of 1900, Clifford Beers was admitted to a mental-health institution for attempting suicide. In regard to the context of his attempted suicide, according to the journal entry entitled Beers, Clifford Whittingham, it states the following “No doubt he agonized over his options and his own willfulness, considered a running leap out a third story window during a family dinner, but ended up climbing out, hanging on, and then simply dropping” (Gray, 2008). Having faced contemplation in other words, Mr. Beers ended up being hospitalized for injuring and breaking every bone in both of his feet. It should also be noted that mental illness runs through the immediate family bloodline of Mr. Beers. According to the journal article entitled From a Patient’s Perspective: Clifford Whittingham Beers’ Work to Reform Mental Health Services, it states the following: “While in the hospital recovering from these injuries, he experienced hallucinations and paranoia. As he convalesced at home, his mental state deteriorated further and he gave up speaking, convinced that he and his family were in grave danger” (Parry, 2010). In other words, mental illness convinced Beers of many irrational fears associated with the world he lived in. Following his attempt at suicide, Beers spent nearly three years, from 1900-1903, in three separate clinical facilities in Connecticut. This is where abuse began for Mr. Beers, as he describes the process and operation of employment in the institution. According to his book entitled A Mind that Found Itself, he states: “Its worst manifestation was in the employment of the meanest type of attendant—men willing to work for the paltry wage of eighteen dollars a month. Very seldom did competent attendants consent to work there, and then usually because of a scarcity of profitable employment elsewhere” (Beers, 1908). By way of explanation, Beers seeks to inform the reader of the different healthcare attendants hired, whom of which, had no experience. As a result, Beers was under the care of many neglectful attendants, two of whom did not physically abuse him, but lacked a cognizant mindset to ensure that the hospitality and wellbeing of Mr. Beers was being taken care of. According to his book, he also states the following: “Another of the same sort, on one occasion, cursed me with a degree of brutality which I prefer not to recall, much less record” (Beers, 1908). As brutality continued to occur in the institution, Beers was a witness to the cruelty inflicted on himself and patients around him. Beers, mentioning his non-compliance to certain staff requests, led to inhumanness like being spat on and disparaged. He witnessed elderly patients be neglected by doctors, thus causing them death. Beers’ documentation of violence, restraints, verbal and physical abuse, dehumanization, and so much more is mentioned in his book. This book, as stated previously, would be the leading start to bringing about awareness to the corrupted system affiliated with mental healthcare institutions.

3. Social work and social welfare or other social/political action issues on which the personage worked (evaluated on K1.K5A).

Social action for Clifford Whittingham Beers began in 1908, when he published his book entitled A Mind that Found Itself. Capitalizing on the mistreatment of those who were mentally-ill, including himself, Beers pushed for his story to be heard. Clifford Beers wrote another book entitled The Mental Health Hygiene Movement. In his book entitled The Mental Hygiene Movement, he states: “The time has come for stabilizing, upon the permanent foundation of endowment, work already under way that cannot be abandoned, for developing along new lines, disclosed by what has been accomplished, and for participating more fully in the organized health and social activities of every community” (Beers, 1921, p. 341). That is to say, in the process following the publication of his first book, in 1909, the National Committee for Mental Hygiene was created to enforce and resolve the horrors experienced in mental healthcare. According to the article entitled: Mental hygiene movement as a (r)evolutionary trend in public health in interwar Kaunas and Vilnius from 1918 to 1939, it states the following:

“The objectives of the institute included: “improving mental health care, preventing mental illness and all sorts of defects, improving the treatment of the mentally ill, feeble-minded care and education of the mentally sick, investigation of the psychological factors related to education” (Žalnora & Miežutavičiūtė, 2016). Put differently, the purpose of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene was to revolutionize mental healthcare, and reform healthcare to be appropriately evaluated and practiced. Writing two books and building his legacy through working with human beings of great power, Beers succeeded at reforming healthcare institutions. This reform of mental healthcare resulted in the founding of International Congress for Mental Hygiene, a 1930’s meeting with delegates representing over 50 countries. According to the article titled From a Patient’s Perspective: Clifford Whittingham Beers’ Work to Reform Mental Health Services, it states the following: “The meeting launched international reform efforts and led to the development of the International Committee for Mental Hygiene.” Simply put, the International Committee for Mental Hygiene was another cornerstone for Beers, and his mental healthcare reform. In conclusion, Clifford Whittingham Beers’ took his own testimony and experiences to make a long-lasting, positive impact in the social welfare and justice field of today.

4. Legacy and publications, including any publications of the person or books and articles about the person (evaluated on K1.K5A).

Based on his experiences and movement in social welfare, Clifford Whittingham Beers wrote and published two books, referenced and titled A Mind that Found Itselfand The Mental Hygiene Movement. According to the journal entry entitled Beers, Clifford Whittingham, it states: “Clifford W. Beers has been memorialized with a plaque in the The Extra Mile — Points of Light Volunteer Pathway located on the sidewalks of downtown Washington, D.C. The Extra Mile is a program of Points of Light Institute, dedicated to inspire, mobilize and equip individuals to volunteer and serve. The Extra Mile was approved by Congress and the District of Columbia. It is funded entirely by private sources” (Gray 2008). In other words, Beers is honored by our federal government for his commitment and duty to protect and put an end to patients who received improper mental hygiene care. According to the article entitled From a Patient’s Perspective: Clifford Whittingham Beers’ Work to Reform Mental Health Services, the reader learns the following about Beers: “He was awarded an honorary degree by Yale University for his contribution to humanity and in 1933, Welch presented him with a book of tributes from hundreds of leading figures involved in mental health care. In 1950, the International Committee joined with the National Mental Health Foundation and the Psychiatric Foundation” (Parry, 2010). Specifically, Clifford Whittingham Beers was a revolutionist in morality of mankind and advocated for a population of many who could not advocate for themselves.

5. What do you think the person would be doing if they were alive today? (evaluated on K1.K5A)

If Clifford Whittingham Beers were still alive today, I believe that he would be working with our government to reform and advocate for healthcare policy. I see Mr. Beers as someone who would be teaching in higher education, about the history and welfare of mental institutions. I believe this because Mr. Beers was a strong advocate for writing about his mental/emotional trauma experiences when he was admitted, and his lessons in teaching could help foster a growth mindset and have the ability to change the fixed mindsets of those in regards to our social welfare system.

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