Friday, October 28, 2016

Dr. Bennett Unchains the Insane, Thomas Gruber Spins a Yarn & Ira Altshuler Revolutionizes Mental Health Care

Detroit Free Press, April 28, 1940
This article appeared inside a full page feature concerning Ira Altshuler and the music therapy program which I've written about in more detailed and sordid terms before. It concerns Dr. Bennett, the first medical superintendent of Eloise, and how he helped to dignify the lives of the insane. Whereas they were formerly chained in a basement of the asylum Bennett assimilated them into the general population.

The story recounted here is about the first insane patient who was unshackled due to his own persistent requests. Bennett allowed for it during field work and the man almost immediately got himself into trouble drinking from a can of poison used to treat potato bugs. Luckily, the concoction was weak and didn't cause any irreversible damage. The man remained unchained thereafter and was a model patient. The chains reportedly remain buried on the grounds.

Here is the aforementioned feature:

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You'll probably have to squint to read it thanks to Blogger's size limiting on images.

The photos above show the music therapy participants with Ira Altshuler featured in the lower left, patients tapping their feet on the right and patients from the Hope, Effort and Success Clubs listening to a nurse (probably Jane Matney).

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