The Legacy of Wyatt is essentially a story of mental health history in Alabama.
The story begins in the 1840s with the advocacy of Dorothea Dix and the construction
of Bryce Hospital from 1852-1859. The first Superintendent of the hospital was a young
doctor by the name of Peter Bryce. He instituted policies that were innovative, respectful
and therapeutic for patients who at that time had their own rooms with a window and furniture
from their homes. The “moral treatment movement” advocated for no restraints, humane treatment
and spacious grounds for outside activities. You may view
or download the presentation by clicking on the links below. If you would
like a free copy on DVD, please call the Office of Public Information & Community Relations at 334-242-3417.
Over the years the system deteriorated however into what some called a “warehousing” system.
Patient beds were inches apart and by the time the Wyatt litigation was filed in 1971,
Bryce had over 5,000 patients with only three Psychiatrists. The Wyatt vs. Stickney lawsuit
dramatically changed the mental health landscape both in Alabama and across the nation.
Much of the film covers the positive reforms brought about through a combination of Federal Court
mandates and departmental initiatives. There are two versions of The Legacy of Wyatt. One ends
with the reforms related to rights and services for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The other relates to reforms for rights and services for people with mental illness.
Each film is approximately 17 minutes in length and has had positive reviews from a wide range
of audiences such as high school, college history and psychology classes, as well as church and