Hell in the Family: Married Women and Madness Before Institutionalization at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, 1890-1921

Hell in the Family: Married Women and Madness Before Institutionalization at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, 1890-1921

Hell in the Family: Married Women and Madness Before Institutionalization at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, 1890-1921

Hell in the Family: Married Women and Madness Before Institutionalization at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, 1890-1921s

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Référence bibliographique [73]

Thifault, Marie-Claude. 2011. «Hell in the Family: Married Women and Madness Before Institutionalization at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum, 1890-1921 ». Nursing History Review, vol. 19, p. 15-28.

Fiche synthèse

1. Objectifs


Intentions :
The goal of «[t]his paper [is to] examines a group of married women committed for insanity between 1890 and 1921 at the St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum in Montreal.» (p. 16)

Questions/Hypothèses :
What «[…] can we learn about the motivation of families to institutionalize a loved one who had family support, especially in such closely knit French Canadian families? What reasons did families have to admit their wives and mothers to institutions, how did they explain their behaviour, and how did they negotiate admission with asylum officials?» (p. 16-17)

2. Méthode


Échantillon/Matériau :
«This study is based on records of patients admitted to St-Jean-de-Dieu between 1890 and 1921, and uses the official documentation on female patients along with, in some cases, correspondence addressed to institution authorities. [...] A sample of 284 files [...] were selected for this study […].» (p. 17)

Type de traitement des données :
Analyse de contenu

3. Résumé


«Research in Montreal’s St-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum archives has revealed a number of letters from family members and local physicians pleading for asylum care for married women between 1890 and 1921. When added to other admission documents in patients’ medical files, these letters allow an intimate glimpse into private lives of families and highlight the pain and distress of dealing with mentally ill people in the home before the introduction of community mental health services. Fare from easily abandoning a spouse or mother, close-knit French Canadian families struggle until they could no longer cope before seeking help. To comply with asylum regulations, family members (primarily husbands, who were often illiterate) and local physicians were required to justify their applications for admission, but they did so in different ways.» (p. 15)