Patients were often brought to insane asylums against their wills, and then stayed in them against their wills. Many were heartbroken to think that relatives or spouses would commit them to treatment in such places, and some patients discovered to their horror that there would be little chance of returning to their homes. Patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians faced even more trauma, because a stay at this asylum meant leaving their own culture to come into an unfamiliar one. Language barriers made even common problems worse. Patients sometimes acted on their desire to return home and left the asylum. Most were caught and returned, because the staff at the asylum and lawmen knew patients would generally head for their home reservations. Still, escapes were embarrassing for the asylum’s superintendents and had to be duly reported to Washington, D.C.
In a few instances, patients who made an escape were allowed to return to their reservations without pursuit–perhaps giving hope to others considering escape.