The Enlightenment of the 18th century modified public attitudes about the incurability of the insane. In the last years of the 18th and the first decades of the 19th century, laymen and physicians alike attempted by humane treatment and "moral therapy" to return the afflicted from the asylums to society. The archives of these asylums record those who were then identified as insane and the therapies that were hoped would cure them; yet few definitive histories of these institutions have appeared. Disordered Minds is the history of the first public-supported institution for the insane in this country, Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Dr. Dain, reviewing the asylum's first 100 years, 1766-1866, covers three broad areas: the history of the asylum as an institution—its buildings, staff, budget; second, the custodial care and treatment given the patients, putting this in context with contemporary care elsewhere; and third, the relation of the