Shrink Resistant, 1988

Shrink Resistant

Bonnie Burstow and Don Weitz, Editors
Vancouver: New Star Press, 1988

dramatic black book cover with figures in pink, yellow, green and purpleThe 1988 publication of Shrink Resistant was a milestone in English Canadian survivor culture, the first collective representation of the experiences of women and men who had been patients in psychiatric institutions.  Produced by the Vancouver alternative publisher, New Star Press, Shrink Resistant was deeply and deliberately political.  It was about giving voice to the silenced, about speaking out, and speaking back to oppression, to forced treatment, and to professional power.  Shrink Resistant – the Exhibit tells a full story of the book’s contents and creation.

Editors Bonnie Burstow and Don Weitz were a good combination for this project. Bonnie Burstow was an academic at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), a therapist, and an activist.  Don Weitz is a psychiatric survivor and a longtime activist in the Toronto survivor community.  Meeting in 1982, they became immediate allies, and soon after began working together on the project that became Shrink Resistant.

Don had been amassing possible material since the mid-1970s, and now the two editors worked collaboratively, Bonnie taking the lead on editing submissions while Don reached out for submissions across the country.  The result of their efforts is a powerful mélange of poetry, art and memoir, with significant pieces by Linda MacDonald, an early 1960s victim of Dr. Ewan Cameron’s infamous CIA-funded mind control experiments at the Allan Memorial Hospital, mad movement names such as Steve Stapleton, and Alf Jackson, and an important chapter titled, “Them Crazy Indians,” by Vern Harper.