Clifford Whittingham Beers

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Clifford Whittingham Beers
Clifford Beers.jpg
Beers in 1908, from the frontispiece
of his book
Clifford Whittingham Beers

(1876-03-30)March 30, 1876
DiedJuly 9, 1943(1943-07-09) (aged 67)
EducationYale University
OccupationFounder of the "National Committee for Mental Hygiene" (1909)
Founder of New Haven's Clifford Beers Clinic (1913), the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States
Known forFounder of the American Mental Hygiene Movement
Author of A Mind That Found Itself (1908)
Spouse(s)Clara (Jepson) Beers
Parent(s)Robert Anthony Beers
Ida (Cooke) Beers
HonorsHonorary President of the World Federation for Mental Health
Chevalier Legion d'Honneur (1933)

Clifford Whittingham Beers (March 30, 1876 – July 9, 1943) was the founder of the American mental hygiene movement.[1]


Beers was born in New Haven, Connecticut to Ida and Robert Beers on March 30, 1876. He was one of five children, all of whom would suffer from psychological distress and would spend time in mental institutions, including Beers himself (see "Clifford W. Beers, Advocate for the Insane"). He graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale in 1897,[1] where he was business manager of The Yale Record and a member of Berzelius.[2]

In 1900 he was first confined to a private mental institution for depression and paranoia. He would later be confined to another private hospital as well as a state institution. During these periods he experienced and witnessed serious maltreatment at the hands of the staff. His book A Mind That Found Itself (1908), an autobiographical account of his hospitalization and the abuses he suffered, was widely and favorably reviewed, became a bestseller, and is still in print.[1]

Beers gained the support of the medical profession and others in the work to reform the treatment of the mentally ill. In 1908 Beers founded the "Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene", now named Mental Health Connecticut. In 1909 Beers founded the "National Committee for Mental Hygiene", now named "Mental Health America", in order to continue the reform for the treatment of the mentally ill.

He also started the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven in 1913, the first outpatient mental health clinic in the United States.

Beers became Honorary President of the World Federation for Mental Health.

Beers was a leader in the field until his retirement in 1939.[1] He died in Providence, Rhode Island on July 9, 1943.

The Extra Mile National Monument in Washington, DC selected Beers as one of its 37 honorees. The Extra Mile pays homage to Americans like Beers who set their own self-interest aside to help others and successfully brought positive social change to the United States.


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas Szasz (2008). Psychiatry:The Science of Lies. p. 98.
  2. ^ "Clifford Whittingham Beers". History of the Class of 1897, Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University: Decennial Record 1897–1907. New Haven: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company. 1907. p. 4.


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