Northern Michigan Asylum

How Thin the Veil: A Memoir of 45 Days in the Traverse City State Hospital By Ray Minervini (Introduction by), Jack Kerkhoff Cover Image
By Ray Minervini (Introduction by), Jack Kerkhoff
ISBN: 9781943995196
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(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Mission Point Press - November 15th, 2016

"So this is my homecoming. This is my return to the town where I spent the happiest days of my youth.

Picture a slightly decrepit, snow-covered state hospital. A depressed writer checks himself into the asylum and is placed in the ward for alcoholics and the mildly insane. Under the care of a wise and patient, chain-smoking doctor, our hero examines his suicidal motivations, while at the same time keeping a writer's eye on the inmates and their almost universal malady of "woman trouble." As the snow comes down and Christmas nears, "woman trouble" takes on new meaning when the author falls in love with beautiful, child-like Suzy from Ward Eleven.

This memoir, originally published in 1952, takes a hard-boiled look at mental health treatment before the collapse of the state-sponsored system. Bawdy, inappropriate, deeply romantic and rich in captivating characters, How Thin the Veil takes the love story to where it's never been before.

Traverse City State Hospital (Images of America) By Chris Miller Cover Image
ISBN: 9780738533896
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Published: Arcadia Publishing (SC) - May 1st, 2005

Northern Michigan Asylum, which opened in 1885, was known during most of its years as Traverse City State Hospital. More than 200 photographs and images are provided, including many of the features and buildings long gone.


It was run during its first decades by Dr. James Decker Munson, who left his legacy in the landscaped grounds and the medical center that today bears his name. Traverse City State Hospital served the mental health needs of a large part of Michigan for 104 years until its closure in 1989, housing a population as large as 3,000 in its many buildings.This book traces the history of this great institution, from the local and mental health context in which it was founded, through its growth, development, and decline, and finally to its renovation and preservation as a vital part of the Traverse City community.

Angels in the Architecture: A Photographic Elegy to an American Asylum (Great Lakes Books) By Heidi Johnson, Nancy Tomes (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Heidi Johnson, Nancy Tomes (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780814332122
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Published: Wayne State University Press - February 20th, 2004

In the nineteenth century, perhaps no approach to mental illness was more compassionate than that of hospital administrator Thomas Story Kirkbride, whose asylum designs integrated beauty and nature as a method to treat patients. The Northern Michigan Asylum in Traverse City, Michigan, was one of the last of nearly two hundred such architecturally intriguing asylums. Founded in 1885 under the principle "beauty is therapy," the Northern Michigan Asylum closed in 1989 and today stands as a haunting reminder of this lost era. Angels in the Architecture is a photographic study of this institution's one-hundred-year history. Heidi Johnson's photographs of the building today are juxtaposed with rare images from private collections and state archives. Johnson has captured Kirkbride's spirit of compassion-of angels in the architecture-in a book that conveys the human element of mental illness with beauty and integrity.

From horse-drawn wagon rides to school through five decades of tending majestic trees at the gothic Traverse City State Hospital, Earle Steele colorfully and compassionately shares tales of life and how it was lived at The Asylum, a city-within-a-city that once housed 5,000 mentally ill patients.  In a series of letters to his granddaughter, this groundskeeper’s son recounts a childhood of befriending patients and his years as gardener, grounds superintendent and museum curator at an institution where the dictum was “beauty is therapy.”

A Man Against Insanity: The Birth of Drug Therapy in a Northern Michigan Asylum By Paul de Kruif Cover Image
ISBN: 9781943995554
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Published: Mission Point Press - March 30th, 2018

Meet the man against insanity. His laboratory? The sadly sinister wards of the 3,000-bed Traverse City State Hospital. His apparatus? Only his own eyes and hands, plus the hands and eyes of more than one hundred nurse attendants. And for his experiments, the patients whom staff referred to as the "cats and dogs"- the seemingly incurable psychotics resistant to all treatment and far beyond hope."Maybe we're not scientific here," Ferguson admitted. "I know we're different than they are in the big medical schools. We don't treat diseases - we try to treat sick people."In this book, originally published in 1957, author Paul de Kruif tells the story of Dr. Jack Ferguson, a family physician who originally made a name for himself by perfecting a three-minute lobotomy. In 1954, he arrived in Traverse City, Michigan, ready to perform 500 lobotomies on the so-called incurably insane. Yet he never got around to even the first one. Instead, using an unscientific combination of chemicals, copious notes and loving attention, he began one of the boldest drug therapy experiments ever attempted in a mental institution, helping to reshape how the mentally ill are treated in this country and abroad.