"a one-armed strait-jacket"
Straitjacket, Public Hospital. Williamsburg, Virginia
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStraitjacket, Public Hospital. Williamsburg, Virginia - Credit: beccaxsos

The strait-jacket was introduced in the late 18th century as a ‘humane’ alternative to the iron collars and chains that had previously been used to restrain the mentally ill. The patient’s arms are inserted into its over-long sleeves and then crossed over his or her chest; the sleeves are then tied behind the back. This prevents patients from attacking others or destroying their surroundings, for the more violently one struggles, the tighter the restraint becomes. Strait-jacket use declined dramatically after antipsychotics became available in the 1950s.