Winner – Victorian Community History Awards 2020 – Oral History
Larundel Psychiatric Hospital was ‘the madhouse on the edge of town’ – until the 1990s, a Melbourne cultural icon shrouded in mystery in the outer suburb of Bundoora.
What was it really like inside this madhouse?
This story takes us into the heart of Larundel through the voices of former inmates and staff, exposing the best and worst aspects of the mental institutions of the times. It shows the shifts in psychiatric treatments, the social forces at play, and changes driving mental health policy. It explores what de-institutionalisation and ‘care in the community’ actually meant for those suffering mental illness, as well as for those treating, and caring for them.
What did we lose with Larundel’s closure in 1999 and the move to acute psychiatric wards in general hospitals? The notion of asylum? Is the more recent notion of ‘recovery’ a hopeful signpost towards a brave new world for mental health?
The authors are Sandy Jeffs, a former inmate of Larundel, who became an advocate for her ‘mad’ comrades and is now a poet of distinction; and Margaret Leggatt, sociologist, occupational therapist and activist for the friends and families of mentally ill people.
‘A significant and lively contribution to the history of mental health services in Australia, offering vital insights for the progress we must work for.’ – Jack Heath, CEO, SANE Australia
Paperback, 255pp, index.
Australian Scholarly Publishing
Julie Dempsey –
Out of the madhouse is well researched and reflects the living experiences and emotions of inmates, carers and staff of an era when Psychiatry was on the outside of society and the misery and hopes of those in the field were excluded from the rest of the world. Sandy and Margaret ask has all that much changed with the much heralded move back to community back in the 1990’s. Stigma and exclusion are alive and prominent today, but we can also learn from a past system that offered time, space and concerted rehabilitation to those who stepped out of the accepted ‘norm’. A masterpiece of critical analysis, humanity and education.