Committed to the State Asylum examines the evolution of the asylum as the response to insanity in nineteenth-century Quebec and Ontario. Focusing on the creation and development of government-funded asylums for the insane - among the largest and most important nineteenth-century institutions in both provinces - James Moran argues that asylum development was the result of complex relationships among a wide array of people, including state inspectors and administrators, asylum doctors, local magistrates, jail surgeons, religious authorities, and the relatives and neighbours of those who were considered to be insane.
Unlike other studies, Committed to the State Asylum shows the important role that the community played in shaping the asylum and tackles the thorny issue of state development, explaining how state asylums developed differently in each province. He considers Canada?s pioneering institutional efforts at dealing with the criminally insane and why those efforts lasted only a short time, shedding new light on the debate about the nature and extent of state involvement in nineteenth-century Canadian society.
Committed to the State Asylum offers new insights into the ways in which both ordinary families and the state understood and responded to those they thought had crossed the boundaries of sane behaviour.
"A very valuable contribution to the historiography of psychiatric medicine. By relying heavily on primary records dealing with patient committal and relations among the many interested parties in asylum medicine in Ontario and Quebec history, Moran does something truly original and profound." Ian R. Dowbiggin, Department of History, University of Prince Edward Island
"Sound scholarship. The empirical base of the book is solid. Moran displays a sound command of the secondary literature and of the on-going historiographical debates on the nature of the nineteenth-century psychiatric experience." Thomas E. Brown, Humanities, Mount Royal College
"The author has an excellent understanding of historiography. The book is very accurate, and Moran's analyses are both careful and meticulous." André Cellard, Department of History, University of Ottawa
"[An] excellent book .Moran has laid a solid foundation on which future work in Canadian asylum historiography can be built."
The Canadian Historical Review
About the Author:
James E. Moran is a Hannah Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published articles in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, History of Psychiatry, and Histoire Sociale/Social History.