Iowa State Psychopathic Hospital

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Iowa State Psychopathic Hospital
Established 1919
Opened 1921
Closed 1991
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Iowa City, IA
Alternate Names


Although it is difficult to specify the exact date when the Iowa Psychopathic Hospital began, a university committee recommended the creation of a psychopathic institute to investigate the nature, cause, and treatment of mental disease as early as 1910. The General Assembly appropriated funds to build the Iowa Psychopathic Hospital in 1919 and construction began soon after. The hospital functioned from an annex of the main university hospital until construction was completed in 1921. This is thought to be the first university affiliated psychiatric department west of the Mississippi.

The hospital was established by the General Assembly to “1) make intensive efforts by the best known methods to cure mental illness, mental diseases; 2) teach well established methods of diagnosis and treatment of mental disease to medical students and to teach abnormal psychology to the university students; and 3) carry on scientific investigations into the nature and causes of mental diseases and to endeavor to suggest, to the people and officials of the state, effective ways of preventing mental breakdowns.”

The General Assembly clearly viewed the mission of the Iowa Psychopathic Hospital as distinct from the work of the four existing state hospitals for the insane (the first was Mt. Pleasant in 1861) and the two state hospitals for mentally defective and epileptic patients. Although many things have changed in the Iowa Psychopathic Hospital since 1920, including additions to the building for psychiatric research in 1962 and the Children’s Psychiatric Hospital in 1963, becoming a part of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 1976, and the move to the Pappajohn Pavilion in the main university hospital in 1991, the department has never lost its focus and commitment to the primary missions given by the General Assembly in 1919.[1]