This illustration of a mutilated mouth is not the result of a road accident, but that of a doctor’s obsession with an utterly bizarre theory of insanity—a theory that left hundreds of his patients dead and thousands maimed for life.
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Dr. Henry Cotton was the medical director and superintended of the Trenton State Hospital, a large lunatic asylum in New Jersey. Before returning to the US to accept the position as medical director at a young age of 30, Cotton had studied psychiatry in Europe under two legendary figures of the time, Emil Kraepelin and Alois Alzheimer. He was also a student Dr. Adolf Meyer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. All of these men were pillars in the field of psychiatry, especially Meyer who was one of the first to recognize that psychiatric problems are problems of human personality rather that of the brain. Meyer also recognized that an individual’s activity and mental health are connected, and he advocated therapies, community services and change in a person’s daily life, environment, and habits as part of the treatment.