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Strait jacket, Europe, 1925-1935

British medical writer David Macbride (1726-78) first described the strait jacket, or strait waistcoat, in 1772 in a textbook. It was a physical restraint. Its use gradually declined in the 1800s as reformers campaigned for a more sympathetic approach to mental illness. The strait jacket encompassed the entire upper body. This included the head, which was held in a leather harness. The copy was made in the 1930s, perhaps to illustrate the former treatment of ‘inmates’. The original dated from the late 1700s. It was made of canvas and leather. Antipsychotic drugs were introduced in the 1950s and physical restraint was almost entirely abandoned after this date.

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Glossary: asylum

A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.

Glossary: restraint suit

No description.

Glossary: psychiatry

A branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness.