Starting in 1911, and for many years, the Alberta Hospital Ponoka, or AHP, was the largest and highest-population psychiatric institution in the Western Canadian Province of Alberta. It was also located on the outskirts of Jack Martin’s hometown, and his father was employed there, which means that its story and Martin’s intersect in varied and interesting ways.
In Hometown Asylum, Martin explores the Hospital’s history, along with some of his own. In this journey, Martin considers past and contemporary issues in mental health services and treatments from the perspectives of those receiving them, those attempting to provide them, and the citizens whose attitudes and tax dollars inevitably guide and contribute to these efforts.
In telling the history of the Alberta Hospital Ponoka, this book describes a wide and varied range of treatments for those suffering mental disorders, and examines how societies, past and present, have responded to the challenges of caring for them. As a part of this, Martin raises questions about the nature of mental illness, the efficacy and ethics of treatments offered, the rights of the mentally ill, and the obligations and manner of their care.