Maltreatment of People With Serious Mental Illness in the Early 20th Century: A Focus on Nazi Germany and Eugenics in America

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Prejudice and stigma against people with mental illness can be seen throughout history. The worst instance of this prejudice was connected to the rise of the eugenics movement in the early 20th century. Although the Nazi German T-4 program of killing people with mental illness was the most egregious culmination of this philosophy, the United States has its own dark eugenics history—nearing a slippery slope all too similar to that of the Nazis. Mental health care clinicians need to examine this period to honor the memory of the victims of eugenics and to guarantee that nothing like this will ever happen again.

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