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Charles G. Roland

Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1990. 128pp, cloth, $17.95
ISBN 1-55002-048-X. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Ruth Bainbridge.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Clarence Hincks: Mental Health Crusader is the fourth book in the "Canadian Medical Lives" series sponsored by the Hannah Institute. The purpose of this series is to introduce unsung heroes (and heroines) of the Canadian medical field to the Canadian population.

Dr. Hincks was born and raised in southern Ontario and graduated from the University Of Toronto School Of Medicine in 1907. As a young doctor he was unable to earn enough from a private practice to support his new family, so he augmented his income by becoming District Medical Inspector of Schools in West Toronto. Here he discovered that about 40 per cent of his school patients suffered from emotional, behavioural and learning problems. Hincks himself suffered his first of what were to become annual bouts of depres­sion at the age of sixteen. The concept of mental health did not exist at that time, but Hincks set about trying to learn what he could about mental conditions. His lifelong devotion to his career brought him into contact with other great medical men of his time, such as Dr. Osler, Dr. Clark, for whom the Clark Institute is named, and Dr. Beers in the United States.

The Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene (now known as the Canadian Mental Health Association) was set up by him in 1918 and this agency has been instrumental in changing the attitudes of the general population towards mental illness, in carrying out research on various treatments, in training personnel and in ensuring that patients afflicted with mental disorders receive humane treatment instead of incarceration.

Hincks was very adept at raising the vast sums of money upon which the committee relied to perform the almost insurmountable task they had set for themselves. The fact that the Canadian Mental Health Association is alive and well in all provinces of Canada today is due to the lifetime devotion of people like Dr. Hincks.

While this book focuses mainly on his professional life, there is one short chapter that provides some insight into his personal and family life. Eight pages of black-and-white photographs are included. The author, a medical historian, collected information on Clarence Hincks for years and actually met and interviewed him in 1963-64. Roland also had access to autobio­graphical notes dictated by Hincks and interviewed or corresponded with many of Hincks' relatives and colleagues. An index and small bibliography are included.

This book is an interesting account of a Canadian pioneer in the field of mental health in Canada and would serve as a valid resource on that topic.

Ruth Bainbridge, Humber College, Rexdale, Ont.
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