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Psychiatric Services Collection
Image: Electro-Convulsive Therapy Machine
Source: Museum Victoria
The Psychiatric Services Collection is made up of over 1600 objects and covers the period of 1870-1980. The objects collected from several Victorian psychiatric institutions tell a sad story of neglect and lack of political will. Much of the museum's collection was assembled during the 1950s by Dr Charles Brothers while he was working within the system to bring about reforms.
Victoria's first 'lunatic asylum' was a bluestone barracks in extensive grounds at Yarra Bend.
By the late 1860s, the colony's population of people with psychiatric disabilities, including confused and dementing elderly people, had increased enormously.
Between 1867 and 1872, the government opened three institutions, at Kew, Beechworth and Ararat, as shelters for 'lunatics'. The buildings were huge, with large dormitories and kitchens, and extensive gardens and farmlands. Capable patients could learn and work at a trade, and a strict routine was followed, with the aim of 'imposing order on chaotic minds'. Soon these institutions were themselves overcrowded, and attempts to separate patients by type of illness faltered.
The asylum population comprised people with intellectual disabilities, confused elderly, and those with psychiatric illnesses. Treatments included restriction, isolation and sometimes, sedation, and there was limited contact with families and friends. Some people were calmed by the regular routine and the break from outside responsibility and were able to be discharged, but many stayed in institutions until they died.
Dr Brothers' investigations uncovered the institutionalised poverty and lack of hope resulting from decades of government and community neglect. The texture of daily life in an impoverished and overcrowded institution is evoked by well-worn domestic objects, battered metal chamber pots and standardised clothing. Collection objects range from uniforms, restraining devices, medications, surgical instruments, kitchen utensils, gardening tools, artworks and building fittings.
Items per page: 10 50 (showing 1 - 10) 31 items
Prescription Book for Receiving House, Royal Park Mental Hospital, 1956-1957. It was used in the pharmacy of Royal Park Mental Hospital and Receiving House for dispensing drugs to patie ...Images: 1
Dietary chart for Victorian Hospitals for the Insane dated 1 February 1910. This dietary chart outlines the daily allowances for patients and attendants in Victorian Hospitals for the I ...Images: 2
Twenty-five page booklet setting out rules and regulations for nurses and their patients whilst employed in mental or psychiatric hospitals. Printed by C.H.Rixon, Government Printer, Me ...Images: 1
Relaxa-tabs is the trade name for mild sedative and sleeping pill combination of carbromal and bromvaletone, dated circa 1960. Manufactured by H.W. Woods, Pty. Ltd., 10 Clifford Street, ...Images: 3
Leaflet for drug Valamin, made by Schering AG Berlin and distributed in Australia by Schering Pty. Ltd. Sydney. Valamin is the trade name for the active ingredient Ethinamate, a sedativ ...Images: 2
Leaflet for drug Cardiazol. Cardiazol is the trade name for the drug Pentylenetetrazol, a circulatory and respiratory stimulant, manufactured by Knoll A.G. Chemical Works, circa 1950. I ...Images: 16
Leaflet for drug Bromural (Bromoisovalerylcarbamide), manufactured by Knoll A.G. Chemical Works, Ludwigshafen-on-Rhine, Germany. Stocked in the pharmacy of and used in a mental health h ...Images: 2
Leaflet for drug Evarsan, trade name for neoarsphenamine manufactured at the Evans Biological Institute in England, 1948. Stocked in the pharmacy of a mental health hospital in Victoria ...Images: 2
Leaflet for drug Sedatabs, manufactured by Sigma Company Ltd., Melbourne, Australia, circa 1960. Administered as a mild sedative-analgesic (combined sleep inducing and pain relieving). ...Images: 2