A Case of Hysteria

A Home For Inebriates And The Insane

In 1893, the Southern California State Asylum for the Insane and Inebriates opened in San Bernardino County. The facility was built in the fashion of the popular Kirkbride plan, which called for a central administration building to be flanked by separate wings for male and female inmates, and for gardens and walking paths to offer exercise and fresh air. Early incarcerated “inmates” were wards of the state—deemed insane by state-appointed “lunacy” commissioners. The asylum was renamed Patton State Hospital after Board of Managers member Harry Patton in 1927. Today it houses approximately 1,500 patients affected by a range of disorders, including sexually violent predators and those deemed criminally insane. Patton has an army of doctors and staff members providing around-the-clock care and protection, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, nurses, dieticians, police, kitchen and custodial workers, groundskeepers, spiritual leaders, and other clinical and administrative staff.

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