A glance at some statistics, published in the United States census reports will be interesting in this connection. The following figures are taken from a table showing the number of insane, idiotic, blind, and deaf-mutes in the United States, in the years named, respectively, according to the census:
According to these figures, the population a little more than doubled in thirty years, while the number of defective persons returned was nearly five times as great as it had been thirty years before. During the decade from 1870-'80 the increase in population was 30 per cent; during the same interval of time the apparent increase in the defective classes was a little more than 155 per cent. There is much talk about the increase of insanity in our day, and statistics appear to bear witness to the truth of such reports. The following shows the ratio of insane population to the entire population for the whole country in different years:
The latest report of the Census Bureau states that the total number of insane persons treated in both public and private institutions during the year 1889 was 97,535, while during the year 1881 there were 56,205 treated; showing an increase in the nine years of 41,330, or 73·53 per cent. This percentage of increase, when compared with the percentage of increase of population in the last decade, namely, 24·86, does not necessarily indicate an increase in the proportion of insane persons to population, but rather a great increase in the amount of asylum accommodation provided, and a willingness on the part of the public to make full use of all the facilities thus offered. The bulletin states that the figures for the actual number of insane in the United States can not be determined until the work of eliminating all duplicate reports of cases has been completed.
The ratio of insane in public and private institutions of the United States is to the entire population as 1·56 to 1,000. As these figures represent only institutions to which large numbers of the mildly insane are never sent, they point to an increase in insanity. Objections may be made to figures tending to show a
- Dr. C. L. Dana, in Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, April, 1882.
- Census Bulletin, No. 62, May 9, 1891.