[cont'd.] new institutions. Earle's controversial critique
contributed to a reassessment of the role of the state
hospitals in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Supporters of the state hospitals fell back on more
modest claims for their value -- as places to ease the
suffering of the sick and the burdens of the families. By
the dawn of the twentieth century, the newly renamed
Northampton State Hospital housed six hundred people
in severely overcrowded conditions. The rise of
psychotherapy and the development of alternative
institutions for the practice of psychiatry contributed to
a devaluing of the hospital and the work that it did, even
as the numbers of patients treated there swelled to
record numbers. Increasingly, the state hospital served
only those people with few economic resources or
those whose conditions were not easily amenable to
treatment, such as the senile elderly, as well as
becoming a last resort for anyone who needed help
but could find it nowhere else.
Over the first half of the twentieth century...