Mental illnesses have always been stigmatized - in the past and in the current day. However, the treatment of mental illnesses has not always been the same. In the 17th century, mentally ill patients were treated as though they were animals, and were not given a place in society. The concept of a treatment more humane became popular in Western Europe and America in the 18th century. This treatment was coined the “Moral Treatment” during the Enlightenment, and consisted of the mentally ill being treated as humans with a purpose in their societies. Miguel de Cervantes, with exposure to medicine through his family and friends, recognized the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses during the 17th century, around while he was writing his novel, Don Quijote. Using various characters in his novel, Cervantes creates a social commentary around the stigma towards mental illnesses and suggests that society must change their views and the way they treat the mentally ill in order to progress society.
"Los Estigmas Sobre Las Enfermedades Mentales en el Tiempo de Miguel De Cervantes,"
Available at: http://scholar.oxy.edu/cervantes/vol1/iss1/11