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Introduction: This study examines the humanization movement at the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu psychiatric hospital between the 1960s and the 1990s.
Context: Conducting a historiography of psychiatric deinstitutionalization in Quebec during the twentieth century shows that the institution was a place of social control and, above all else, a place where psychiatric patients were neglected and dehumanized.
Objective: While the historiography since the 1960s has focused on a largely one-dimensional and critical reading of the way in which deinstitutionalization took place in Quebec, I have instead chosen to focus on the changes that took place within the Quebec hospital’s walls.
Method: In addition to the medical records of the patients who were interned in 1961, I conducted interviews to examine the experiences and emotions of nurses who worked in the psychiatric hospital between the 1960s and 1990s.
Results: The examination of medical records revealed patients’ reluctance and resistance to reintegrate into society. The interviews with nurses revealed that they often felt close to their patients.
Discussion: The words and memories of nurses enrich and deepen the complexity of the history of psychiatric nursing practices, extend the existing historiography, and open new avenues for research in the field.
Conclusion: The deinstitutionalization movement promoted mental health policies that transformed the old psychiatric hospital. This new analytical approach contributed to renewing the history of psychiatric nursing practices.

  • nurses
  • psychiatric hospital
  • deinstitutionalization
  • deference
  • Quebec
Marie-Claude Thifault
Laurie Kirouac
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