Can New Brunswick pride itself by having opened the first asylum in North America, in 1832? During the 19th century alone, this institution went through approximately twenty expansions, and each time, it soon proved to be too small. Was this a positive turn of events? Some will claim it was merely an indication of the exceptional foresight that leaders had in creating a vanguard institution for treating madness.
This book takes on a different perspective; it describes the creation and evolution of mental health care from the standpoint of people who were sidelined and stifled, but who gradually rallied and even rebelled in order to create services which are tailored to their realities. For the past 185 years, these struggles have brought about profound changes in New Brunswick’s mental health system’s landscape; so that today, many no longer see themselves as passive consumers. Some mental health clients no longer allow themselves to be pushed around; they are no longer blinded by a psychiatrization that labels everything which is different. They express their suffering; they advocate for their rights and understand the issues at stake lurking behind “treatments”.
In this original book, the first of its kind in Canada, Eugène LeBlanc and Nérée St-Amand present an unconventional picture of mental health that casts doubt on the official version. For the authors, the true story is the one where people fight back on a daily basis to understand their suffering, and where they envision services that are humane rather than medical. This volume pays tribute to the exploits of unsung heroes, those who defy and still dare to propose alternative methods of treating people. Through personal accounts, the authors make obvious that psychiatrizing people is not the answer. This book is a must-read in order to understand not only the history of asylums, but the issues surrounding mental health.