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Asylum Treatment

In the 19th century, hospital treatment for the mentally ill ranged from humane therapies to brutal custodial care. Among the more enlightened practices was that of "moral treatment." Patients were looked upon with respect, offered meaningful occupation, and physically restrained only when absolutely necessary. Asylum accommodations were classified according to a patient's ability to pay. Those who could afford it might even have a private servant. Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy, where Van Gogh stayed for a year, advertised its superior location, attractive buildings, and even the quality of its food. Vincent entered as a voluntary third-class patient. His regimen, which gave him relative seclusion, included soothing baths: "I have a bath twice a week now and stay in it for two hours."

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