Thesis ID: CBB741533565

Memories of Asylums: A Narrative Examination of Postwar State Hospital Experiences (2020)


This dissertation examines the memories of former asylum residents who were committed to American state-run psychiatric hospitals as patients between the 1940s and 1970s, the period characterized by the deinstitutionalization of asylum residents. In doing so, I introduce and examine two different modes of memories, collective and personal. The former asylum residents and patient liberation activists—who identify as consumers/survivors/ex-patients of psychiatry—used these two kinds of memory either as a platform to advance their political agendas or to navigate their lives in the community as former asylum residents. I demonstrate how they interacted with these two different modes of memory and explain how they shaped the history of state hospitals during that period. This dissertation considers former asylum residents as vibrant and essential, albeit not always equally empowered, political actors in the process of deinstitutionalization. The first-person narratives of asylum residents were excluded from historical inquiry because their testimony was regarded as unreliable, a stigma that stemmed from their diagnostic labels. However, historians of disability and madness have argued that scholars need to re-evaluate disabled or mad people’s first-person accounts as historical sources. In doing so, I investigate the memories of postwar asylums in the context of the postwar historic shift where an increasing number of former residents began re-examining their asylum experiences as a part of a larger story of liberation and empowerment of oppressed groups. This dissertation employs six oral interviews with former asylum residents. In addition to print and online sources, I have used a number of archival collections belonging to religious conscientious objectors, psychiatrists, journalists, and consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) of psychiatry activists.

Citation URI

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Article Hirshbein, Laura; (2012)
Historical Essay: Electroconvulsive Therapy, Memory, and Self in America (/p/isis/citation/CBB001211250/) unapi

Book Dale, Pamela; Melling, Joseph; (2006)
Mental Illness and Learning Disability since 1850: Finding a Place for Mental Disorder in the United Kingdom (/p/isis/citation/CBB000774001/) unapi

Article Morrison, Hazel; (2013)
Conversing with the Psychiatrist: Patient Narratives within Glasgow's Royal Asylum, 1921--1929 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001320813/) unapi

Article David Millard; Peter Agulnik; Neil Armstrong; Craig Fees; John Hall; David Kennard; Jonathan Leach; (2023)
Innovation in mental health care: Bertram Mandelbrote, the Phoenix Unit and the therapeutic community approach (/p/isis/citation/CBB147518171/) unapi

Article Mario Colucci; (2017)
Prospettive della salute mentale in Italia (/p/isis/citation/CBB437764979/) unapi

Article Gian Paolo Guelfi; (2017)
La “rivoluzione psichiatrica” di Agostino Pirella nel manicomio di Arezzo (/p/isis/citation/CBB015866367/) unapi

Book Dell'Osso, Liliana; Primo Lorenzi; (2024)
Una lunga sfida. Snodi nella psichiatria e nell’assistenza psichiatrica in Italia (/p/isis/citation/CBB935313304/) unapi

Book Mario Colucci; Pierangelo Di Vittorio; (2024)
Franco Basaglia. Pensiero, pratiche, politica (/p/isis/citation/CBB690686526/) unapi

Book Paolo Francesco Peloso; (2023)
Franco Basaglia, un profilo. Dalla critica dell’istituzione psichiatrica alla critica della società (/p/isis/citation/CBB262800679/) unapi

Book Franco Basaglia; Marica Setaro; (2024)
Fare l'impossibile. Ragionando di psichiatria e potere (/p/isis/citation/CBB220510776/) unapi

Chapter Akira Hashimoto; (2016)
Work and Activity in Mental Hospitals in Modern Japan, c. 1868-2000 (/p/isis/citation/CBB282664098/) unapi

Chapter Valentin-Veron Toma; (2016)
Work and Occupation in Romanian Psychiatry, c. 1838-1945 (/p/isis/citation/CBB929069248/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Hall, John
Colucci, Mario
Dale, Pamela
Ernst, Waltraud
Hashimoto, Akira
Hirshbein, Laura Davidow
Mefisto: Rivista di medicina, filosofia, storia
Journal of Literature and Science
History of Psychiatry
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Carocci Editore
Yale University Library
Psychiatric hospitals
Medicine and society
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Science and society
Public health
Basaglia, Franco
Pirella, Agostino
Von Braun, Wernher
Risso, Michele
Basaglia Ongaro, Franca
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
20th century, late
United States
Great Britain
British Columbia (Canada)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment