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TitleManaging Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size3.4 MB
Total Pages352
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Contents
List of Illustrations
Note on Photographs
Acknowledgements
Introduction: Who Has Seen the Asylum
Chapter 1: Optimism and Celebration
Chapter 2: Experiencing the Asylum
Chapter 3: False Starts
Photo Section 1
Chapter 4: Socializing Mental Health Care
Chapter 5: Pills, Politics, and Experiments of All Kinds
Chapter 6: Dissolving the Walls
Chapter 7: Hospital Diasporas
Photo Section 2
Chapter 8: Consumption and Survival
Conclusion: Legacies
Notes
Bibliography
Contributors
Illustration Credits
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
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D I S S O L V I N G T H E W A L L S | 153

a significant role in fostering a more balanced relationship between patients
and the broader community and in lobbying on their behalf as it weighed in on
discussions on mental health reforms.

One activity that Whyte examines is the volunteer visitors program. In 1952,
the same year that the Weyburn Mental Hospital hired its first social worker, it
initiated a program of regular visits to the hospital. Contrary to the touring
in earlier decades, this iteration of visiting collected women from nearby com-
munities, and eventually hired buses from the Saskatchewan Transportation
Company, to bring the women to the hospital to meet with patients, make
observations, and sometimes return to the community to gather supplies for
improving the institutional environment. As Whyte details in her book, vis-
itors encountered a variety of sad cases of patients and over time developed
friendships and began forwarding their observations to hospital staff. For ex-
ample, one visitor recalled that “an elderly woman half lay, half sat on a lounge
and looked so woe begone that I felt I could not make matters worse so I ap-
proached her. She responded to my greeting and asked me to read from the
Bible.”18 Whyte astutely points out, however, that for many of the visitors these
experiences profoundly influenced their own assumptions about mental illness
and institutionalization. She suggests that over time “volunteers took more ini-
tiative in developing diversions for the patients.”19

Whyte also found that, while families paid a nominal fee to visit their insti-
tutionalized relatives, volunteers gained free admission and even free transport
to the hospital. In 1960, “243 relatives and 635 visitors” took the chartered bus
to Weyburn. As the visiting program was regularized and the same volunteers
returned and grew more confident in their interactions with the hospital, they
began making suggestions for improving the conditions there. They observed,
for instance, how patients on the ward reserved for “mental defectives” had no
access to the outdoors. Many of them had been living in the institution for long
periods of time, even decades, but the opportunities for engaging in activities
were meagre.20 The ward readily became an oppressive place, and patients were
smothered by boredom. Volunteers recommended outdoor activities and ways
to brighten the environment. Similarly, while the ventilation system had been
disconnected on the tuberculosis ward to avoid contamination and prevent the
spread of fire, the fifty-six patients there had no access to natural light, fresh air,
or outdoor activities.21 Volunteers pressed staff to make adjustments to routines

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154 | M A N A G I N G M A D N E S S

in the hospital to incorporate more regularly physical activities and outdoor
events to raise the spirits of complacent residents.

As illustrated by the volunteer visitors program, the relationship between
the community and the hospital began changing in the 1950s. In addition to
grassroots approaches to reform, administrators and researchers joined the dis-
cussions with increasingly strenuous arguments for opening the doors of the
asylum and for encouraging a more fluid relationship with the surrounding
community. More people in positions of authority began questioning the util-
ity of custodial care, arguing that it did more harm than good. Reversing the
equation altogether was increasingly palatable. That is, rather than incarcerate
people with mental illness to segregate them from society, under the auspices
of protection, the doors of the institution should be opened, patients should
be reintegrated into their communities, and healthier relationships based upon
tolerance, trust, and socialization should be built. These ideas turned psychiat-
ric institutionalization on its head. Patients should be distinguished in wards
not by class, gender, or disease category but by the degree to which they had
socialization skills. Patients could then be considered along a spectrum of so-
cial abilities, which would turn the lens outward onto the community. The
Saskatchewan Division organized its own Mental Health Week, 27 April–
3 May 1958, under the motto “The tide is beginning to turn. . . . With your help
the Mentally Ill Can Come Back,” signalling a shift toward community engage-
ment and later community care.22

The activities of the CMHA in Saskatchewan were indicative of a changing
climate, both within the community and among patients and ex-patients who
worked to close the gap between the hospital and the community. Beginning in
1964, the CMHA published pamphlets and newsletters that directly addressed
the tension between these two constituencies, focusing on the stigma surround-
ing mental illness and on the lack of information in circulation to dispel myths
about mental health and illness. In an inaugural news bulletin, CMHA president
T.H. Cowburn praised the work of the organization: “We look forward to the
day when, in our hospitals and White Cross Centres, volunteers . . . in larger
numbers will provide a social climate devoid of stigma, that is conducive to
more rapid convalescence and complete recovery.”23 After praising the work of
the women volunteers, the news bulletin closed with a message from the execu-
tive director, Irwin Kahan, who made similarly blunt recommendations: “Our
scientists assure us that mental illness is a disease and that the family or patient

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Thompson, Evaline, 61, 66

Tomes, Nancy, 177

Toombs, N.M., 161

“total institution”, 21, 53, 69, 149, 229–32.
See also Goffman, Erving

Toronto, 37, 58, 71, 104

Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 35, 59,
63

Toronto General Hospital, 35–36

Townsend, G., 144

“transinstitutionalization”, 176, 195–99

treatments. See mental illness, Weyburn
Mental Hospital

Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC), 12, 229

Trumpour, Melvina, 133

U
Uhrich, John Michael, 73, 81

United Church, 90

United Farmers of Alberta, 90

United Farmers of Canada, 94

United Farmers of Manitoba, 90

United States, 6, 24, 94, 118, 132, 169,
173, 176, 178, 186, 194, 217, 232, 237

universal health care, 19, 90. See also
medicare

University of Saskatchewan, 7, 47, 138,
145, 162, 167, 215; College of
Medicine, 143–45, 183; Department
of Psychiatry, 138–39, 144–45, 162,
167; hospital, 113, 138, 144–45, 148,
162

urbanization, 37, 45–46, 49, 54

utopianism, 7, 43, 49, 54, 68, 217

V
Valverde, Mariana, 95

Vancouver, 209, 211, 213

Smith, Colin, 25, 26, 103, 108, 138–139,
148, 174–175, 187, 191–98, 215, 217

Smith, J.M., 65

social gospel movement, 94–95 (see
Douglas, Tommy Clement)

socialized medicine, 20, 74, 97, 115, 134–
35, 137, 201. See also medicare

Social Security and its Reconstruction
Council, 99

Social Welfare, 41

Sommer, Robert, 21–22, 111–12, 149–51

Standard Classified Nomenclature of
Disease, 120

Stapleton, Steve, 213

Steuart, Davey, 184–85, 201

Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon), 156, 161

Statistical Manual for Use of Institutions for
the Insane, 118–19

Stavely, J.H., 157–58

sterilization, 16–18, 73–76

Stevenson, G.S., 108

Stewart, Alex, 173, 190

stigma. See mental illness; stigma

Stony Mountain Penitentiary, 4, 10, 89

Strasbourg (Saskatchewan), 84

Strauss, Richard, 84–85

Stefan, George, 208–10, 212

suicide, 27, 31, 56, 85, 128, 133, 171, 229

Supreme Court of Canada, 28

Swift Current, 103, 104, 164, 166

Szasz, Thomas, 204, 206

T
Taylor, Barbara, 222–23

Thatcher, Ross, 193, 207

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I N D E X | 321

76, 81, 83, 85–86, 151–59, 187–88;
staffing in, 56–58, 60–61, 100, 187,
233; treatments in, 15, 19–21, 25–27,
49, 54–55, 128, 130–32, 149, 152;
visitors to, 5, 67–70, 81, 152–54

Weyburn Psychiatric Centre, 163

Weyburn Review, 42, 46, 48, 65, 157, 193

Wiebe, Charles, 84, 85

Who Has Seen the Wind? (Mitchell), 1

Whyte, Jayne Melville, 152–53, 201, 203,
207–8, 219

William, H., 2–6

Winnipeg, 38, 94, 196

Wolfensberger, Wolf, 232

Woodsworth, J.S., 76, 94

work therapy, 49, 54, 57, 66, 68, 131.
See also moral therapy, occupational
therapy

World Health Organization, 108

Worthing, England, 163

Y
Yakovlev, Paul, 169

Yorkton, 103, 145, 164, 174

Yorkton Psychiatric Centre, 113, 163, 165,
199, 202, 207

Vancouver Mental Patient Association
(MPA), 211–13

veterans, 13, 34, 36, 38, 57, 66–67, 117,
169

Victorian architecture, 33, 49, 54, 68

Victorian era, 95

volunteer visitors program, 152–57

W
Weckowicz, Teodoro E., 103

Wellness Recovery Action Planning
(WRAP), 30

Wells, H.G., 69

Weyburn, 1, 6, 7, 15, 23–24, 26, 33, 37,
42–43, 46, 48, 49–50, 58–59, 64–65,
67, 71, 104, 153, 157–59, 173, 185,
190, 235

Weyburn Cemetery Board, 64

Weyburn City Council, 64

Weyburn City Police, 71

Weyburn Hospital Board, 50

Weyburn Mental Hospital, 9, 14–16,
23–26, 31, 39–43, 46, 48–59, 63–65,
69–70, 74–75, 77–85, 98, 101, 102,
105, 107, 109, 112–13, 121–22, 129–
34, 138, 147, 149–59, 161–67, 202,
223, 231–32, 238–39; architecture, 6,
15, 54, 68, 109–13; basement wards,
5, 51, 60, 68; children in, 54–55, 63,
121–23, 129; closure, 231, 233–35,
238; CNCMH assessment of, 39–40,
161; conditions in, 23, 51–57, 59,
80, 81, 101, 128–29, 150–53, 195,
199, 202; deinstitutionalization of,
23, 25, 157–59, 163–66, 171–73,
180–88, 195, 197, 234–35; funding,
19, 56–57, 63, 79, 151, 178, 195,
207–8; improvements to, 72, 77, 86,
109–12, 151–54; overcrowding, 15,
23, 54, 55, 80, 81, 83, 99, 130, 147,
160; and politics, 15, 19, 41, 47–48,
58–59, 64–69, 71–72, 74, 77, 79, 86,
116, 178–79; public perceptions of,
5, 15–16, 20, 24, 33–34, 37, 40–43,
49, 54, 57–58, 63, 65–68, 71–72,

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