Beers, Clifford

Beers, Clifford (Whittingham)

(1876–1943) founder of mental hygiene movement; born in New Haven, Conn. Trained as a scientist at Yale, he was hospitalized after a mental breakdown (1900–03). As a result of indignities and violence he experienced, he was determined to reform the mental health system. His book, The Mind That Found Itself (1908), created a sensation, calling for a true therapeutic approach to mental illness instead of just custodial care. That year he also founded the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene; in 1909 he founded the National Commission for Mental Hygiene, which under his lifelong leadership became an international movement that would have a major impact on every aspect of mental health care. Although much of what he advocated would come to be accepted practice, he was greatly honored in his lifetime for his pioneering work.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.