I was very pleased to have the opportunity to take part in the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project spring visit and clean-up that took place on May 11, 2013.
I rode to the event on my bicycle. The cemetery is a beautiful place. It’s an example of relatively undisturbed history in this part of the city.
I strongly support this project. I’m so pleased that I learned of the cemetery and that I’ve had a chance to visit it. It’s at the north-east corner of Horner Ave. and Evans Ave. I had driven by it hundreds of times but had not noticed it until I received an email about the annual spring visit and clean-up.
Here are some earlier blog posts related to the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds:
Mental health and Canadian society: Historical perspectives (2006)
Mental health and Canadian society (2006) addresses the topic of how mental illness has been addressed in Canadian history. A blurb at the Toronto Public Library about this book, whose main contributors are James E. Moran and Douglas Wright, reads:
In 1860, inmates built a stone wall around the Toronto Lunatic Asylum to separate themselves from prying eyes. The lunatic asylum has played a continuing role in historical attempts to deal with mental health, injecting tragic, almost gothic overtones of geographical isolation, medical experimentation and social control into public perceptions of the filed.
In Mental Health and Canadian Society leading researchers challenge generalisations about the mentally ill and the history of mental health in Canada. Considering the period from colonialism to the present, they examine such issues as the rise of the insanity plea, the Victorian asylum as a tourist attraction, the treatment of First Nations people in western mental hospitals, and post-World War II psychiatric research into LSD. Their original conclusions challenge us to rethink present mental health policies, which continue to be influenced by an imagined history of the lunatic asylum.
Updates: Asylums in New York and Texas
A June 10, 2013 Mail Online article discusses photographs of the contents of suitcases of asylum patients. The heading and the subheads for the article read as follows:
- The chilling pictures of suitcases left in a New York insane asylum by patients who were locked away for the rest of their lives
- Photographer Jon Crispin has been documenting the suitcases left behind by patients at the Willard Asylum for the Insane in Upstate New York
- 400 suitcases were found in an attic at the asylum in 1995. They date from 1910 to 1960
- Many of the patients who went to the asylum died there and were buried in graves marked not with names, but by numbers
A May 2, 2013 Wired article is entitled: “Old ‘Lunatic’ Brains Tell Story of Evolving Mental Health Diagnoses.”
A March 26, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “Inside America’s Toughest Federal Prison: For years, conditions inside the United States’ only federal supermax facility were largely a mystery. But a landmark lawsuit is finally revealing the harsh world within.”
A March 26, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “‘Shrinks,’ by Jeffrey A. Lieberman with Ogi Ogas.”
A blurb for Shrinks (2015) at the Toronto Public Library website notes:
The fascinating story of psychiatry’s origins, demise, and redemption, by the former President of the American Psychiatric Association.
Psychiatry has come a long way since the days of chaining ‘lunatics’ in cold cells and parading them as freakish marvels before a gaping public. But, as Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, reveals in his extraordinary and eye-opening book, the path to legitimacy for “the black sheep of medicine” has been anything but smooth.
In Shrinks, Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudo-science through its adolescence as a cult of ‘shrinks’ to its late blooming maturity – beginning after World War II – as a science-driven profession that saves lives. With fascinating case studies and portraits of the luminaries of the field – from Sigmund Freud to Eric Kandel – Shrinks is a gripping and illuminating read, and an urgent call-to-arms to dispel the stigma of mental illnesses by treating them as diseases rather than unfortunate states of mind.