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Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2013 Feb;71(2):125-6.

A humanistic gift from the Brazilian Emperor D. Pedro II (1825 - 1891) to the Brazilian nation: the first lunatic asylum in Latin America.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatry, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.


Until the beginning of the 19th century, psychiatric patients did not receive specialized treatment. The problem that was posed by the presence of psychiatric patients in the Santas Casas de Misericórdia and the social pressure from this issue culminated in a Decree of the Brazilian Emperor, D. Pedro II, on July 18, 1841. The “Lunatic Palace” was the first institution in Latin America exclusively designed for mental patients. It was built between 1842 and 1852 and is an example of neoclassical architecture in Brazil, located at Saudade Beach in the city of Rio de Janeiro. In the 1930s and 1940s, the D. Pedro II Hospital was overcrowded, and patients were gradually transferred to other hospitals. By September of 1944, all the patients had been transferred and the hospital was deactivated. Key words: psychiatry, history, madness.

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