Established in 1889 as the Highland Insane Asylum (Southern California State Asylum), the state hospital continues to provide psychiatric care and treatment to judicially committed and mentally disordered adult individuals. The recently opened museum contains over 140 artifacts and shows the evolution of more than 100 years of treatment.
Patton State psychiatric hospital has had thousands of patients (2,024 of those buried on the hospital grounds), conducted more than 4,500 sterilizations & performed over 250 lobotomy procedures. All this and more is now documented at the newly opened Patton State Hospital Museum in Patton, CA [San Bernardino].
The Humane Restraint Company was founded in 1876 by Mathew Lynch. Mr. Lynch, a harness manufacturer, was approached by a local mental health hospital to make a device more humane than the metal shackles they used to manage agitated & aggressive patients. Soft leather describes the majority of products in Humane Restraint`s 10-page illustrated price list: the wrist and ankle restraints, or preventive aggression devices, PADS, as they`re known in the trade. Although the PADS line owes its existence to an 1876 patented invention created by Matthew W. Lynch, straitjackets have been around for centuries.
Another favorite item in the museum is the lobotomy pick, which has the name of Dr. Walter Freeman inscribed on it, the doctor who developed the procedure and performed 3,339 lobotomies in his career. Freeman would go from state hospital to state hospital, teaching a one- or two-day course. Patton, which began lobotomies in 1947, was one of his stops. Approximately 250 lobotomy procedures were conducted at Patton before the practice was discontinued. Sometimes the metal lobotomy rod was driven into a patient’s brain two or three times during separate procedures. That practice was discontinued with the introduction of the psychiatric drug Thorazine in the early 1950s,
The museum is the result of four years of work that started when Hospital historian and senior licensed clinical social worker Anthony Ortega was shown a room piled with odds and ends that had been stored over the decades. He’d heard about the collection and bugged a hospital official for a peek. For Ortega, it was like finding lost treasure.
The first exhibit on the tour is a timeline of the hospital’s history which also serves as a history of psychiatric treatment.
The hospital was established in 1889 as the Highland Insane Asylum with the groundbreaking in 1890. Patton accepted its first patients on Aug. 1, 1893. It was in 1927 that the hospital changed its named to Patton State Hospital. The hospital now serves more than 1,500 patients each day with a staff of 2,390.
Postcards from the Edge
Discharge Receipt Book
In 1923, the wonderful old gothic-style buildings were damaged in a 6.3 earthquake and were ultimately demolished.
Patient Art Display – Jessie’s brown car is kind of interesting but Willaim’s 4 pigs are also super cute.
Looks like William enjoyed making animals in sets of 4.
These items were recently discovered in the attic of the building where the hospital’s current HR Department is located. The artifacts were hidden there by a patient and include letters, newspapers and other personal writings from 1925.
Hydrotherapy treatment began at Patton in 1910. Patients were placed in a bathtub-like device that had a canvas cover to restrain them inside of the tub, which might contain warm or cold water. There was this idea that if you could restrain people long enough then they could control their behavior. It was called moral treatment back in the day but nurses were known to have punished patients by either filling the tub with freezing water, which would often cause hypothermia or scorching hot water, which would burn them. It also wasn’t uncommon for them to leave patients strapped down in the tub for up to two full days.
3 legs are better than 1.
Smile! The Identification Department created ID’s for employees and also took the booking/intake photos of the patients when they arrived.
The photographer would adjust the numbers manually in order to give the patient the correct ID number that was assigned to them while they stayed at the hospital.
In Patton’s earlier days, patients were paid for working in the hospital with these canteen vouchers, which are now on display at the museum.
In 1941, Patton physicians along with faculty at Caltech conducted experiments with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) machines, three years after the procedure was developed in Italy.
The early ECT machine on display at the museum was made in Southern California. ECT is no longer a therapy on the Patton grounds, although it has been contracted out for the few patients whom doctors feel would benefit from the procedure.
Since the museum is operated by volunteers, it’s currently only open for visits one day a month. Those interested in signing up for a visit can do so by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is on the hospital grounds, 3102 E. Highland Ave., just north of the Highland Senior Center.