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Remembrance of Patients Past

Remembrance of Patients Past: Life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 1870-1940

Geoffrey Reaume
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 380
  • Book Info
    Remembrance of Patients Past
    Book Description:

    Reaume remembers previously forgotten psychiatric patients by examining in rich detail their daily life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane (now called the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - CAMH) from 1870-1940.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2806-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Geoffrey Reaume
  4. 1 Introduction: The Physical and Medical Setting
    (pp. 1-22)

    When 49-year-old Graeme L. wrote these words in 1907, he was a patient at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, where he remained for six months until he was discharged. A year before Graeme’s admission, another man was admitted to the same institution from the London, Ontario, insane asylum. At the time of his transferral to Toronto in 1906, Tom M. had already been a patient in London for 28 years, since 1878 when he was 17 years old. He would remain confined at the Queen Street hospital until his death in 1941, having spent all of his final 63...

  5. 2 Diagnosis and Admission
    (pp. 23-53)

    The prospect of admission to an asylum could be a terrifying experience. In June 1907 Madeleine B. had been a patient for several days on the Nervous Ward of the Toronto General Hospital when she was told that she was to be transferred to the nearby Hospital for the Insane on Queen Street. Distressed after the recent birth of her child, this 28-year-old woman had been diagnosed with puerperal insanity while at the tgh. In an effort to prevent her transferral, Madeleine informed the medical staff that she no longer heard voices. Instead, she said she preferred the tgh because...

  6. 3 Daily Routine and Daily Relationships
    (pp. 54-100)

    The daily routine of the asylum was set down in the late 1870s, and over the next 60 years clinical records indicate that the basic schedule remained the same. Employees who resided in the building, as well as working patients, rose at the sound of the morning bell at 4:30 a.m. from May to August, at 5:00 a.m. during March, April, September, and October, and at 6:00 a.m. from November to February. Patients who were ill or otherwise incapacitated, either on their ward or in male and female infirmaries, were allowed to stay in bed. All ablebodied inmates, whether employed...

  7. 4 Patients’ Leisure and Personal Space
    (pp. 101-132)

    It is curious that in the literature on patient lives so little has been written about leisure and personal space, and where it has been mentioned it is usually only in passing and in the context of moral therapy.¹ Discussions on this topic have therefore concentrated on entertainments organized by the administration, without any serious attention having been devoted to what patients did to amuse themselves. The purpose here is to offer a wider and more comprehensive picture of leisure by including both recreational activities sponsored by medical officials and entertainments initiated by inmates for one another.

    Ellen Dwyer, in...

  8. 5 Patients’ Labour
    (pp. 133-180)

    Moral treatment in which coercion was officially downgraded, while suasion through work and leisure was emphasized as the best way to treat a troubled mind, came to be the primary medical justification for patient labour at 999 Queen Street West. As Charlotte MacKenzie has outlined, versions of this theoretically more gentle approach to dealing with insanity existed in Britain by the late eighteenth century, especially when contrasted with the commonplace brutality that had made madhouses notorious among the public. However, it was from 1813 onward, with the publication of Samuel Tuke’sDescription of the Retreat, that moral reform began to...

  9. 6 Family and Community Responses to Mental Hospital Patients
    (pp. 181-208)

    People who were confined in mental institutions were frequently the object of contempt, ridicule, and scorn from those members of the public who had little or no contact with the individuals they judged. Janet Oppenheim has written that men who had a nervous breakdown were looked upon as weak and passive, something that brought them ‘perilously close to the feminine condition’.¹ During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, masculine perceptions were based on notions of self-reliance and self-control among the middle class, upper class, and higher stations of the working class. A man who had a mental collapse was...

  10. 7 Discharge and Death
    (pp. 209-243)

    This chapter examines the final part of an inmate’s life at 999 and what happened after a person departed the institution, either to return to the community or after death. Before we consider the actual experiences of the men and women who were discharged or who died at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, some statistical figures are necessary, beginning with discharges.

    As Table 11 shows, during the first century of the existence of the Toronto facility, the discharge rate for males, at 50.26 per cent, was slightly higher than that for females, although because more men than women were...

  11. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 244-257)

    This book is one response to H.M. Robbins and people like him who have expressed similar views, past and present. It goes without saying that there are today history books aplenty that reveal the richness, detail, and complexity of the lives of ‘the average citizen’, both of Ontario and of countless other places, all of which stand as an eloquent refutation of Robbins’s view of the world. The lives of some of these people are retold in this book—individuals who were labelled ‘subnormal’. These men and women were capable of an enormous amount of work of ‘permanent value’—in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 258-322)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 323-351)
  14. Index
    (pp. 352-362)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 363-365)