Given this week's podcast episode "Sanity/Insanity: The Rosenhan Experiment," I thought it fitting to examine a piece of mental health history in the form of the "tranquilizing chair," an invention of Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), often cited as the father of American psychiatry.
The whole method here hinges on the premise that madness was an arterial disease, stemming from an inflammation of the brain. Rush sought to treat this condition by controlling blood flow to the brain and reducing motor activity [source: Penn Medicine]. You'll also notice the presence of blinders. Naturally, the chair proved rather useless, and one can't help but wonder what negative effects the restraints and sensory deprivation had on the patient.