Psychiatri didn’t exist 200 years ago. When people became mad 200 years ago, their surroundings tried their best to explain it, with whatever knowledge they had available. Hence things like schizophrenia, psychosis, and delusions, would for obvious reasons be explained as demon possessions. Not all people who are mad are dangerous. It all depends arguably upon their paranoia level. A person whom is paranoid, will normally be more dangerous than a person without paranoia.
A friend of mine did his PhD on Jesus and psychiatri, and he found that people with a positive belief in Jesus, would heal faster than a person who believed in “sulphur preachings”. When he told me, I giggled a little bit, and said “You spent your PhD proving the obvious?” – He laughed, and said “Yes, because even though it’s obvious, science requires proof”. I guess he’s right. My friend found that a mentally sick person who believes in “sulphur preaching”, would heal slower for the record. As his control group, he had a group of mentally sick atheist people, who healed somewhere in between the other groups.
Almost nobody thinks about this today, but monasteries had almost the same kind of function 200 years ago, that psychiatric hospitals do today. When a guy or a girl was so deluded that they could no longer function in society, his villagers could simply put these people into a monastery, and allow them to “live out their fantasy” in some monastery, without causing harm to others. No need for chains, no need for restrictions, because their faith would become a “prison for their minds”, preventing them from harming others in their psychosis.
This approach, of course, is also a much more human approach than locking people in, denying them basic human rights, and applying restrictive regimes to them. And the collective faith of the group as a whole, would often serve as a “social contract”, preventing any single individual within the group from causing harm to society around them. For instance, if some Christian or Buddhist monk gets the idea of that he all of a sudden wants to murder an entire village, the rest of the monks will repeat the teaching of Jesus to him, such as “turn thy other cheek, and forgive thy next of kind, such that you can come to Heaven”, etc. In such a way, Jesus became the “shrink”, that prevented evil, from manifesting itself from the “spirit realms” (mind), and into reality.
It’s easy to laugh of old traditions in a “modern society”, but facts are that this approach to psychiatry, is far superior in all regards, than the approach we in the west have taken for the last 100+ years. If you don’t believe me, read up about lobotomy and psychiatric history on WikiPedia. The next time somebody in your neighbourhood is telling you about something you find “crazy”, ask yourself the following “What is the effect of his madness?” – Because allowing the person to keep his existing faith, even though it’s obvious “rubbish”, is often times fruitful for society as a whole.