St. Gallen St. Pirminsberg


Inventory St. Gallen

Cantonal Psychiatric Services
St. Pirminsberg Psychiatric Hospital

The first psychiatric hospital was opened in Canton St. Gallen in 1847 in the former Benedictine monastery of St. Pirminsberg in the village of Pfäfers. In 1852, the hospital established a residential and working colony at St. Margarethenberg’s Alptal Alp; covering 50 hectares the colony served as the hospital’s farm. Between 10 and 30 patients spent the majority of the year receiving treatment at this outstation. The particular feature of St. Margarethenberg was that patients working on the farm did not return to the main hospital in the evenings, but remained on the estate together with several guards and a cook. St. Pirmensberg pioneered a form of therapy in Switzerland that was soon widely emulated. One important member of staff at Pfäfers hospital was Constantin von Monakow (1853–1930), who later became the first professor of neurology at Zürich University. He spent several years (1878–1885) as a junior doctor at St. Pirmensberg, where he performed various cerebral experiments on cats and rabbits that confirmed neuron theory. Manfred Bleuler (1903–1994), the later director of the Burghölzli Clinic in Zürich, also served at Pfäfers as a junior doctor (1933–1936). No collectors have been discovered in the history of hospital. Its patient records were transferred to the St. Gallen State Archive in 2010. Of a total of 9285 records (admissions between 1847 and 1930), 1782 files were examined. These contained 26 works by six patients. Worth mentioning is the long poem “Die Nähstube zu St.Pirminsberg” by Ida S. (1869–1945).

Meier, Thomas, 150 Jahre Klinik St.Pirminsberg – die erste psychiatrische Klinik des Kantons St. Gallen. In: Werdenberger Jahrbuch.- Jg. 12 (1999), pp. 250-254

150 Jahre Psychiatrische Klinik St.Pirminsberg 1847-1997. Edited by Kantonale psychiatrische Dienste – Sektor Süd. Bad Ragaz 1997

Schneider, Anna, Der “Arbeitsdienst der Irren”: Die Heil- und Pflegeanstalt St.Pirminsberg zwischen Therapie und Ökonomie im 19. Jahrhundert. In: Zeit für Medizin! Einblicke in die
St. Galler Medizingeschichte, 151. Neujahrsblatt, Historischer Verein des Kantons St. Gallen (ed.), St. Gallen 2011, pp. 103-108

Sibalic, Vladimir, Die Geschichte der Psychiatrischen Klinik St.Pirminsberg. (Zürcher medizingeschichtliche Abhandlungen; Nr. 266). Dietikon 1996