I enjoyed this long and thorough look into the treatment of mental illness over the past 2 centuries.
In the alternative health business, we often talk about the horrendous options for "treatment" in the past, including blood letting, surgeries without anesthesiology, mercury, and so on. It is clear that medicine had no real idea what it was doing in the past.
In many ways, the history of mental illness is even more disturbing. No one in society seemed to have any idea what to do about any mental illness - from doctors to priests and teachers, everyone seemed to have it backwards.
There is a history of horrible, painful or deadly treatments, as well as ostracization, stigmatization, and generally inhumane treatment.
Fortunately, unlike the history of physical medicine, which has hardly made any progress, the treatment of mental health has come a long way since the beginning of this history. This book is a great summary of this interesting history, and I recommend it.