This is a truly REMARKABLE book of medical history that will blow your mind…and will teach you that medical science does not allow “follow the science” but instead, it too often “follows the money.”

This book:

• Examines the success of homeopathic psychiatric asylums in the United States from the 1870s until 1920

• Focuses on New York’s Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane, which had a treatment regime with thousands of successful outcomes

• Details a homeopathic blueprint for treating mental disorders based on Talcott’s methods, including nutrition and side-effect-free homeopathic prescriptions

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, homeopathy was popular across all classes of society. In the United States, there were more than 100 homeopathic hospitals, more than 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies, and 22 homeopathic medical schools. In particular, homeopathic psychiatry flourished from the 1870s to the 1930s, with thousands of documented successful outcomes in treating mental illness.

Revealing the astonishing but suppressed history of homeopathic psychiatry, Jerry M. Kantor examines the success of homeopathic psychiatric asylums in America from the post–Civil War era until 1920, including how the madness of Mary Todd Lincoln was effectively treated with homeopathy at a “sane” asylum in Illinois. He focuses in particular on New York’s Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital, where superintendent Selden Talcott oversaw a compassionate and holistic treatment regime that married Thomas Kirkbride’s moral treatment principles to homeopathy. Kantor reveals how homeopathy was pushed aside by pharmaceuticals, which often caused more harm than good, as well as how the current critical attitude toward homeopathy has distorted the historical record.

Offering a vision of mental health care for the future predicated on a model that flourished for half a century, Kantor shows how we can improve the care and treatment of the mentally ill and stop the exponential growth of terminal mental disorder diagnoses that are rampant today.



Sane Asylums is a brilliant stroll through medical history, showing that homeopathic physicians were more than a hundred years ahead of their time. The homeopathic mental health institutions were truly sane asylums; that is, they integrated homeopathic treatment with nutritional therapy, physical exercise, play therapy, and respectful and caring personalized treatment. In terms of mental health care, we can now say that there really were the ‘good old days’ in this medical specialty.” ― Dana Ullman, MPH, CCH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution

“Mental health professionals and patients alike can take heart from this thoroughly documented description of natural cures for mental illness at the turn of the last century. The actual cures came from the timeless science of homeopathy, whose safe and effective medicines remain in use today. In fact, we can still implement the same protocols that Jerry Kantor describes in Sane Asylums, complete with specific medicines for common diagnoses. Both scholarly and entertaining, Sane Asylums provides solid support for a more sane approach to mental illness today.” ― Burke Lennihan, RN, CCH, classical homeopath and author of Your Natural Medicine Cabinet

“In Sane Asylums, Jerry Kantor digs into the past to reveal a surprising history, one that challenges current societal beliefs. The most joyful chapter in this book tells of ‘baseball therapy’ practiced at Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane, with the Asylums, as the hospital’s team was known, posting a surprisingly good record in competition with other local New York baseball teams. You read this and can’t help but ask yourself, what does this reveal about our mental health care today?” ― Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America

“Jerry Kantor’s book is an amazing historical document that also provides insight into what can be done to improve the lives of those struggling with mental illness today. Homeopathy can work miracles. It is imperative that more people realize this at a time when modern medicine is increasingly harming rather than helping us.” ― Amy L. Lansky, Ph.D., author of Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy

Sane Asylums gives us an illuminating look into a time when visionary doctors treated mental illness with care, compassion, and gentle, effective homeopathic remedies. It is an important historical addition that will enlighten therapists as well as anyone interested in improving the treatment of those with severe mental illness. One can only hope that this history becomes better known so that all effective treatments, such as homeopathy, will flourish.” ― Jane Tara Cicchetti, CCH, author of Dreams, Symbols, and Homeopathy

Sane Asylums is a book that makes you want to travel back in time and go to 1875–1925 when mental asylums in the United States offered humane living conditions, compassionate care, sports therapy, and homeopathic remedies to thousands of people with mental illness and obtained successful cures. Sane Asylums shows what was possible back then and what can be achieved today if the homeopathic approach to mental illness is made available again and we, as a society, learn to invest in sanity.” ― Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D., P.D.Hom, CCH, R.S.Hom, classical homeopath and author of The Ayurvedic Rese

“Highly recommended. Sane Asylums is an engaging, well-researched, and very much needed historical perspective on the role of homeopathy in the evolution of medicine in the United States. Rather than the ‘scrubbed’ historical version we are accustomed to finding in our history books, Sane Asylums sheds new light on homeopathy’s relevance for mental health care, medicine, nursing, and politics today. Well worth the read!” ― Ann McKay, RN-BC, CCH, HWNC-BC, homeopath

“In an insane world, what better than to challenge our collective cognitive dissonance around psychiatry? Homeopathy is biological intelligence and inheritance. Seems we knew this once upon a time. ‘Mad’ props to Jerry Kantor for uncovering beautiful, forgotten, misunderstood, and disavowed parts of our medical history.” ― Louise Kuo, health freedom activist and author of Vaccine Epidemic

“Do you like history, homeopathic history? Well then, you’re sure to appreciate Jerry Kantor’s inspiring scholarship in this psychological thriller. And what’s most unsettling is that it’s all true!” ― Jay Yasgur, author of Yasgur’s Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference

About the Author

Jerry M. Kantor, L.Ac., CCH, MMHS, is a faculty member of the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine and owner of Vital Force Health Care LLC, a Boston-area homeopathy and acupuncture practice. The first acupuncturist to receive an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Anaesthesiology, Kantor is the author of Interpreting Chronic IllnessThe Toxic Relationship Cure, and Autism Reversal Toolbox. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts.
288 pages
It’s been gratifying to hear of so many stories about homeopathy’s helping when conventional medicine has failed or caused harm. Still, as a mental health care option, a megaphone loud enough to lead Americans to homeopathy has not yet been found. We also lament the ready accessibility of assault weapons while failing to block their sale. Both problems cry out for new thinking.

Some guilt-ridden psychiatrists purport to distance themselves from the baloney science the PR arm of their own psychopharm industry blurts. Sadly, unfounded media claims about a “broken” brain or chemical imbalance are too often heard to be questioned. Unable to wean themselves from their accustomed profits the same doctors cannot constrain themselves from toxic neuroleptic and benzodiazepine prescribing. That this is disastrous for the public has not gone unnoticed as the popularity of Robert Whitaker’s books Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic attest.

While it amazes me how little pushback I have gotten on Sane Asylums’ subtitle that psychiatry has lost its mind (none actually) a mystery remains why so few of us in the end opt for homeopathy rather than psychopharm for anxiety, depression, mood or eating disorders.

The philosopher John Locke has said: “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any reason but because they are not already common.” Though good sense shouts that homeopathy is the mental health care antidote to toxic psychopharmacology the notion as yet appears too “new.” After all this time, how come? The reason is that in the wake of homeopathic history’s hijacking, freedom of health care choice has eroded.

Sane Asylums was originally pitched to Springer, an overseas publishing house with a long history of bringing forth homeopathic medical and historical texts. In the wake of a European kibosh on homeopathy something changed. A trumped up reason was found to reject the proposal: With a straight face Springer let me know that homeopathic asylums and their neighboring, non-homeopathic mental hospitals offered perfectly equivalent moral care. The differences were not worth mentioning.

If you lived in upstate New York in the 1880s and had a nervous breakdown, your family might have had to choose between sending you to Selden Talcott’s Middletown Asylum for the Insane in Middletown, NY or the Utica mental illness hospital, “Old Main,” run by Amariah Brigham and 120 miles north of Middletown. Both facilities offered rest, nursing and cultural activities. The benefits included homeopathy and spectatorship of a superb baseball the team, the Asylums at Middletown; and at Utica, the opportunity to contribute to the asylum’s newsletter.

A renowned "sane" asylum in Easton, PA Sanitarium, Dr. James Pursell's remodeled 44 room mansion originally built in 1812.
A renowned “sane” asylum in Easton, PA., Dr. James Pursell’s sanitarium, a remodeled 44 room mansion originally built in 1812
Utica CribAn appreciable difference was that if you were prone to violent outbursts, so as to protect yourself and fellow patients at Middletown,  the last resort–mode of restraint–would have been in a camisole (straight jacket). But at Utica, Amariah Brigham would have penned you up in his infamous “Utica Crib,” a torture device Edgar Allen Poe can have imagined. With a thick mattress on the bottom, slats on the sides, and a hinged top that could be locked from the outside, the crib was eighteen inches deep, eight feet long, and three feet wide. Used to restrain and break the spirit of patients, the notorious crib I suspect is the backstory for the expression to “become unhinged,” referring to the wild behaviors of patients once the crib’s cover was lifted. Knowing the facts which asylum would you pick?
Forty-three miles away from Middletown stood an equally large, non-homeopathic moral care mental health asylum, the Hudson River State Hospital. It was built in 1873, one year before Middletown. In contrast to Middletown Hospital where Selden Talcott’s facility was not only homeopathic but entirely self-sufficient, Hudson River State Hospital was a money pit excoriated by the New York Times for having through mismanagement or embezzlement lost $1.2 million dollars of tax payers’ monies.
In another example, let us consider Mary Todd Lincoln’s insanity and treatment at Richard Patterson’s “sane” asylum. Existing history offers two equally preposterous accounts. The first is that following a sensational trial, Mary, who the court deemed incurably insane, was never really ill in the first place. This is belied by accounts such as the following (documented in Sane Asylums):

One of Mary’s doctors, Willis Danforth, was the star witness. He reported that Mary had told him that an evil Indian spirit was pulling wires out of her left eye, that she was distracted by premonitions of her own death and that she was prone to vomiting up her meals to foil imaginary poisoners. The manager of the Chicago hotel she lived in explained how Mary had shown up in the elevator half-naked, and sent all her belongings to Milwaukee one day believing the city was being consumed by a raging fire.

Mary Todd Lincoln
The second narrative says that while clearly out of her mind, all Mary Todd Lincoln needed in order to recover was a spot of rest and the advice of savvy lawyers. Up until my 150 year-late investigation homeopathy’s role in bringing Mary Todd Lincoln to sanity has gone untold. My conjecture is that had Mary’s successful treatment been lauded and recounted in school books, setbacks sustained by homeopathic medical schools in the wake of the 1910 Flexner report could have been forestalled.
The great utopian asylums were undone by their own success that led to overcrowding, underfunding and inferior staffing. In the bigger picture homeopathy’s demise occurred insidiously, driven by immense pressure exerted by the impetus of biomedical capital driven forces that caught up society and seduced homeopaths as well. As recounted in Sane
 homeopathy’s marginalization is attributed to economic pressures rather than to biomedical advances.Entrenched within academia is a narrative that the true story inconveniently contradicts. For this we can thank Johns Hopkins Medical School whose publications persistently portray homeopathy as passe due to its having been a sect and a medical heresy. Johns Hopkins’ fictitious account contaminates medical school departments of history and university history departments throughout the country.Having surveyed the faculties of dozens of university history departments it is hard to miss a curricular concentration top heavy on gender, colonialism, racism and Black History. The ubiquity of these topics is in many ways commendable, but there is a dark side: Other worthwhile fields whose exploration could likewise expand informed choice and enhance well-being are neglected. Academics, historians, translational medicine proponents and social science professors attending to homeopathic history have gone missing.Confronted with a narrative invented by the pharmaceutical industry it is no wonder the public is easily deceived and devoid of informed health care choice. Researching the buried history of our amazing homeopathic asylums, a task that Sane Asylums likens to excavating the Dead Sea Scrolls should belong to professional historians not a lone homeopath. Seizing our narrative will elevate homeopathy’s mental health care profile.

Review of Sane Asylums: The Success of Homeopathy before Psychiatry Lost Its Mind by Jerry M. Kantor (Healing Arts Press, September 2022)

by Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D., PDHom, CCH, RSHom


If there was a system of medicine gentle on the body, mind, and spirit, safe for pregnant women, newborns, and people of all age groups and genders, that is non-invasive, non-addictive, and cost-effective, with no side-effects, and that can address a full range of acute and chronic health conditions using eco-friendly and biodegradable medicines, then surely the public will want it, right? Such a system of medicine exists, and it is known as homeopathy, founded 250 years ago by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, MD, a German medical doctor. 

However, for most people, homeopathy is one sweet pill that is hard to swallow. This is partly because homeopathy is fairly esoteric in its philosophy, as well as ahead of its time, and also because of the strongly negative portrayal of it in the mass media. Thankfully the gross misconceptions about homeopathy can be overcome by learning about its history. 

In the new book Sane Asylums: The Success of Homeopathy before Psychiatry Lost Its Mind, author Jerry M. Kantor presents copious verifiable information focused on a hero we can root for and a heroine we can relate to, alongside snippets about a slice of time (1875-1925) when the stars of homeopathy were ascending. Taking you on a fascinating stroll through medical history, Kantor shows how, in the late 1800s visionary medical doctors were treating mental illness with gentle and effective homeopathic remedies and achieving success rates far superior to current drug-based treatment modalities. Homeopathy as a treatment option had just emerged after an era when the insane were known as beasts, as someone possessed, as sinners, as ill, defective, tortured souls, and troublemakers. These crude perceptions changed, and homeopathy offered an enlightened mental-healthcare method, a practice set in motion by the founder of homeopathy, Dr. Hahnemann, MD, in 1792 when he took charge of an asylum for the insane and cured a very important patient, Herr Klockenbring, a police chief. 

Kantor also shares the story of the madness of Mary Todd Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s widow, and her treatment by homeopath Dr. Richard J. Patterson, MD, revealing how in a mere three months of homeopathic treatment, Mary began to live a normal life. 

But the true focus of Sane Asylums is Dr. Selden Talcott, MD, who emerges as a hero. After serving in the Civil War, he moved on to direct Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital from 1877 to 1902. He also wrote Mental Diseases and Their Modern Treatment, the very first systematic book about asylum-based homeopathic care, including the integration of sports (baseball) into the armamentarium of psychiatry. As the superintendent of Middletown asylum, Dr. Talcott had a clear mission: 

  • Combine the philosophy of homeopathy, as described in the Organon of the Medical Art by Samuel Hahnemann, with the individualized homeopathic method of handling the mentally ill 
  • Demonstrate the efficacy of homeopathy 
  • Create a culturally and recreationally enriching, self-sustaining, farm-operating hospital
  • Provide occupational therapy for the mentally ill
  • Provide a sanctuary for the incurably mentally ill
  • Include forward-looking scientific-medical research into patient care 

As a leader, Dr. Talcott provided training to scores of medical doctors from across the country and who founded satellite asylums that treated hundreds and thousands of mentally ill. All these asylums followed the treatment plan that Dr. Talcott had envisioned. 

The medical team at Middletown also worked seamlessly with Dr. Clara Barrus, MD, chief-educator for the nurses, who wrote a medical masterpiece, Nursing the Insane. She practiced and taught her students kindness and gentle discipline, rest for physical and mental recuperation, massage, enforced protection when necessary, healthy diet, exercise, amusement, occupation, moral and physical hygiene, and finally, individualized homeopathic care. In chapter 7 of Sane Asylums, Kantor shares enlightening extracts from her book, showing that treatment of the insane at Middletown was based on a holistic model, did not in the least lean toward profiteering, and was not an industrial method of giving the insane a disease label and pushing toxic pills down their unwilling throats. 

In chapter 8, Kantor describes in detail how such sane treatment of the insane included an eternally American sport, baseball. Dr. Talcott revolutionized care of his patients by observing that they were totally riveted in watching a game of baseball. He enabled the formation of baseball teams comprised of his insane patients. These teams played and won several games. These accomplishments enhanced not only the patients’ physical prowess, but also their self-esteem and team-spirit, helping them recover their sanity beautifully. It was the first time ever that a medical treatment plan included a prescription for sports. 

Yet, as the author illustrates, after ascending to a peak of success, the stars of homeopathic insane asylums began to fade in the 20th century. The utopian homeopathic insane asylums morphed into conventional hospitals, clinics, and research centers as patented and profitable pharmaceutical medicine, drug-marketing, and Freudian psychotherapy entered the scene. These shifts had a strong backing from the top industrialists of that era who had joined forces to promote medicine that was based on the 20th-century material-mechanical scientific model. The esoteric spirituality and humane treatment that constituted the backbone of Talcott and Barrus’s handling of the insane was no longer considered scientific. Allopathic practitioners began to rely on medication, electric shock, and surgeries for handling the insane. 

Though drug-based psychiatry is the go-to in our modern times, the author gives a very brief case of a schoolgirl from his own practice and shows how despite all odds, he successfully treated her exhibitionism using a well-known homeopathic remedy, Kali carbonicum, chosen on the basis of homeopathic principles and the laws of individualization. Without having to take any pharmaceuticals, the child made a complete recovery from her insanity and stopped disrobing in school.  

Readers of Sane Asylums also get to learn about the author’s dream – of a sane world, where people with mental illness would be treated in fully integrative asylums with homeopathy included in the comprehensive healthcare armamentarium. In this dream world the insane will be treated as people instead of someone mad. In this reviewer’s opinion, this dream can come true when, as a society, we move forward to invest in sanity. 

This hard-to-put down book is concluded with a rich and informative set of appendices including research by Dr. Iris Bell, MD, on how homeopathic remedies work. A brief section brings up relevant aphorisms on mental health by Dr. Hahnemann, showing how he thought hard and deep about mental health 250 years ago and discovered a method for treating afflicted people humanely and by counting on the patient’s innate capacity to recover their sanity when stimulated with gentle and individualized homeopathic remedies. 

Offering a fresh perspective on the problem of mental health, along with sane solutions, Sane Asylums brilliantly shows how, when modern psychiatry was in its earliest formative stages, homeopathy was way ahead of its time in caring for the insane.


About the reviewer: 

Dr. Vatsala Sperling, MS, PhD, PDHom, CCH, RSHom, was the Chief of Clinical Microbiology services at a children’s hospital in Chennai, India, where she conducted research with the World Health Organization (WHO) and published extensively. On moving to the United States in the 1990s, Vatsala studied homeopathy at the late Misha Norland’s School of Homeopathy, UK. The author of ten books and many essays and articles on homeopathy, health, and spirituality, Vatsala continues to study with several teachers. She practices classical homeopathy in Vermont and currently volunteers for the National Center of Homeopathy and the North American Society of Homeopaths. Vatsala can be reached via 

“The review for Sane Asylum is published at this site with permission from Vatsala Sperling.”