Clifford Beers

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The study of mind and behavior is not a new concept. For many years, people have been relating human mind with their behavior. With time, this study came to be recognized as psychology. In psychology, various scientists began studying human mind, its thoughts, feeling as well as behavior. Their main aim was to understand the role of mental functioning in individuals and social behavior. In today’s society, psychology acts as one of the most important aspects in treating mental health issues.

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Due to its importance, various individuals have come up with ways to improve the life of people with a problem associated with mental hygiene (Okpaku & Biswas, 2014). One of the renowned person in this area is named Clifford Beers.

He is remembered because of his work to reform mental health services. In fact, he is considered as the father of the mental hygiene movement. However, a lot of people do not have a clear view of who Clifford Beers was and the contributions he made. In this regard, the following paper seeks to discuss the biographical history of Clifford Beers and provides an overview of the relevance of his life in relation to his psychological contribution.

Biography History and relevance of his contribution to psychology Clifford Beers was born in 1876 and brought up in New Haven, the United States. His parents were Ida and Robert Beers and died aged 67 years in 1943 (Sommer, Clifford & Norcross, 1998). Beers was born in a family that was full of tragedies. Beers parents had lost one their child in early stages. The second child began having annexations and complications in his teenage years and eventually died (Dain, 1980).

Therefore, there was a very big reason for young man Clifford to worry a lot with insinuations that he would develop similar conditions. To make things worse, the family got him and other three children who lived to adulthood. However, three of the sibling died in mental health institution where two of them committed suicide. Beers went university at University of Yale graduated in 1897. In his belief, he thought that going to university marked a point of acceleration forwards. However, this is where the whole of the problem began. As a student, he used to experience frequent bouts of depression.

After graduation, he worked in New York, and he progressively became so distressed as well as anxious. As a result, he returned to his parent’s home. However, he tried committing suicide by throwing himself from their house. He suffered accidents, and while he was in hospital recovering, he experienced paranoia and hallucinations. After he recuperated, his state of mind worsened yet further and he spoke a lot claiming that his family was in grave danger (Jones, 2014). As a result, his parent came up with a decision to place him in an institution for caring the mentally ill. The years that followed, Beers was hospitalized in a mental hospital at Stamford Hall. While at the hospital, Beers was victimized by management staff undergoing both corporeal abuse and demeaning his mental treatment. He was taken into three other institutions, but the situation did not turn to be any better as he and other inmate encountered mistreatment.

During his institutionalized years, his state of mind and intentions began changing. As his release was becoming more of reality, Beers began regaining his senses. In his view, the whole experience was journalistic, looking to expose the horrors which happen in most of the institutions. However, Beers did not mention the institutions which had done that but hoped he could make his point clear that the critical concern he encountered were experienced every mental health institution. This experience changed his mind and opted to come up with a strategy to campaign for reforms (Hoffman, 2016).

As a part of reformation, in January 1905, he wrote a book related to his experience named, A Mind That Found Itself. In his book, Mind That Found Itself, Beers would narrate what it is like to be institutionalized at a period when mental illness was not a concern for anyone. In this book, Beers expressed his own story. In fact, the book acted as an inspiration to many mental health professionals. Moreover, it gave a vital insight to the world to recognize mental disease as a serious disease. It was not simple to say that Beers condoned the actions done to him by the staff of the institutions, however, he did not he did not approve beatings and forced restrained. The facts presented in the book indicated that people mental conditions should be taken for granted.

The book made and huge and immediate impact. It also played a crucial role since it helped to unveil reformation in mental health by introducing movement in the U.S. In his renowned book, Beers acknowledged the significance of his conditions and highlighted vicious act that may have decelerated his quick recovery from hospital. The main aim was to help in removing the disgrace of mental illness among the people (Dain, 1980).

After a while, a renowned psychiatrist known as Adolf Meyer wrote a whole-hearted review which made him unify with Beers in the campaign that championed for reform in mental health services. After publishing the book, Beers combined with William Welch, a theorist, and William James with the aim of refining values of mental care and attitudes towards those who were suffering mental illness, prevent mental illness as well as promoting mental health care.

Consequently, other psychologists united with the movement to come up with a society that promoted and implemented the reform. By 1909, Beers had come up with an idea of launching a movement (Dain, 1980). With time, he came up with the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. The main objective of this movement was to spearhead legal reforms in most of the States in the U.S. also, the National Committee for Mental hygiene provided scholarships and grants to individuals to engage in research on the causes of psychiatric disorders. In order to raise public awareness, this organization published a quarterly magazine under the name Mental Hygiene and Understanding the Child.

After marrying in 1912, Beers came up with a conclusion not to have any children to avoid any case of mental disorder in the children they would bear as result of his concerns about hereditary mental illness. To raise more awareness, Beers planned an International Congress for Mental Hygiene which saw representatives from over 50 countries in the world. The meeting was successful as it launched international reforms efforts which eventually formed the International committee that catered for individual who were mentally ill. Beers was overawed by this massive effort (Parry, 2010).

However, after 14 since he formed an international committee to champion for reforms, he died in Rhode Island in 1943. Beers is recognized worldwide because of his contribution. In fact, he was acknowledged and he was recognized during his lifetime for the important role he played in creating reform in mental health services (Parry, 2010). Due to the recommendable contribution, he was bestowed symbolic honor by Yale University for his involvement to creating and enhancing lives of mentally ill. His contribution was noted other people such as Welch who in 1933, presented a book of tributes from many professional and professionals in mental healthcare.

Even after his death, the International committee together with psychiatric foundation and National Mental Health Foundation to form one of the main mental institution in the United States known as the Mental Health America. Till today, the organization continue to uphold the mission of this renowned mental health service reformist which is to promote the highest standard in mental health services.


In conclusion, it is clear that Clifford Beers acts as the founder of the mental hygiene movement. Having been a mental patient who had been institutionalized for a period of three years, Beers came across difficulty situations while in those institutions. As indicated, helped in eradicating the humiliation of those who are mentally ill. Also, Beers came up with an effort to promote mental health care while improving the services offered at mental health institutions. As highlighted, Beers played a crucial role in revolutionizing how mental illness was treated.

As a result of his effort, there was a major shift in attitude towards mental illness. This had also a big impact in psychology. Beers ensured that counselors in US schools were introduced. Also, he made sure that there was an inclusion of evidence of psychological defendant in a law court. Therefore, Clifford Beers role in reforming the mental health services cannot be underestimated.


Dain, N. (1980).? Clifford W. Beers: Advocate for the insane. University of Pittsburgh Pre.

Hoffman, G. (2016). Mental Illness through the Lens of Theatre.

Jones, P. (2014). CW Beers, A Mind That Found Itself-reflection. The British Journal of Psychiatry,? 205(5), 375-375.

Okpaku, S. O., & Biswas, S. (2014). History of global mental health.? Essentials of global mental health, 1-10.

Parry, M. (2010). From a patient’s perspective: Clifford Whittingham Beers’ work to reform mental health services.? American journal of public health,? 100(12), 2356.

Sommer, R., Clifford, J. S., & Norcross, J. C. (1998). A bibliography of mental patients autobiographies: An update and classification system.? American Journal of Psychiatry,? 155(9), 1261-1264.

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Clifford Beers. (2020, Feb 26). Retrieved from