15. Dr. Benjamin Rush and Early Psychiatric Treatment


Dr. Benjamin Rush, class of 1760, is considered one of the greatest medical teachers of the eighteenth century, as well as the founding father of American psychiatry.  This picture shows one of his inventions, known as the “Tranquilizer,” which was designed to “keep the maniacs in the inflammatory stage of their disease in a perpendicular position so as to save the head from the impetus of the blood as much as possible.”  The reforms he instituted in the care of mentally ill patients were based on both compassion and careful clinical observation.  Rush helped train more than 3,000 medical students and founded the Philadelphia Dispensary for the relief of the poor, as well as instigating the temperance movement, supporting improvements in women’s education, and helping to organize the first American antislavery society, then serving as its president.  This remarkable man also signed the Declaration of Independence, served in the Continental Congress and later was the treasurer of the U.S. Mint, treated wounded soldiers at the Battle of Princeton, and is believed to be Princeton’s youngest graduate ever, completing his degree requirements at teh young age of 14.