On this day in Alabama history: Mental health pioneer Peter Bryce died

On this day in Alabama history: Mental health pioneer Peter Bryce died
Bryce Hospital, opened in 1861 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is Alabama's oldest and largest inpatient psychiatric facility. (The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

August 14, 1892

A native of South Carolina, Peter Bryce in 1860 became the first superintendent of what was then called the Alabama Insane Hospital (AIH) in Tuscaloosa and served for 32 years. Consistent with the predominant belief of the time, Bryce practiced “moral treatment,” which held that insanity was caused by the interplay of genetics and environmental/social factors and that these factors should be filtered out to give the mind time to “heal,” leading patients to an understanding and acceptance of “right” behavior. This was considered preferable to the forced idleness that previously characterized mental healthcare. When Bryce died at the age of 58, he was buried on the grounds of AIH, which was later renamed Bryce Hospital.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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