This belief would spark the fear and interest about the human mind and spark the monster that were not just in the mental asylums but how mental asylums were there own kind of monster. The fear of the mentally insane caused such fear in people that they would commit family members or people who were not even mentally ill. Cohen writes, “The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary) giving them life and an uncanny independence.”. This stands true today, as back when madhouses and mental asylums first started coming about. Nellie Bly would go to write about it in her book, Ten Days In A Mad-House, she knew the best way into a mental asylum was to put fear, anxiety, and make-believe thoughts into the minds of working women at a boarding house. She knew once that fear, anxiety and fantasy took hold of their thoughts they would not be able to rest until they knew she was locked away.
In the 1600s and 1700s, the economy started to see the growth of private “madhouse”, the pre asylum. Before this, it was on the family members to be responsible for care if they could or couldn’t afford the private madhouses, according to Brought to Life Science Museum. Like today, they would end up on the streets begging for help, food, or somewhere to stay. Many family members were embarrassed of having family that were mentally ill or even thought to be mentally ill. This was a sufficient enough cause for private “madhouse” not to keep any records of patients if any records at all. Even with very little records that were kept, it’s not hard to see the proof that was left behind, “Artefacts show keepers used physical restraints such as leg-irons and manacles. Some keepers adopted ‘management’ techniques developed by Renaissance horse – masters to control stubborn horses.” (Mental Institutions). This information of abuse and ill treatment of patients in houses was not something that can be easily hidden as they had once thought. The imprint that “madhouses” left for the soon to follow asylums, still have people in the everlasting fascination and curiosity we still have today. As History of York documents, “Many believed that ‘lunatics’ were insensitive to hot and cold, sub-human, like animals. Beatings and confinement were accepted practice, as was underfeeding patients. In 1786, Joseph Townsend wrote on the subject, “Hunger will tame the fiercest animals, it will teach decency and civility, obedience and subjection to the most perverse”.”.
Nellie Bly had always had a desire to know about life in asylum, which she writes in her book, Ten Days In a Mad-House. Who is Nellie Bly? Her real name is Elizabeth Jane Cochran. In 1887 she moved to New York City to start working for the newspaper company, New York World. Here is where her dreams of being a journalist took off, one of her earliest assignments was a article detailing a personal experiences, telling what patients endured at the legendary mental institution on Blackwell’s Island in New York City. Bly would pretended to be a mental patient in order to get a first hand experience, she got locked away for 10 days. according to biography.com. Bly went in not knowing if she was going to come out, nor did her editors. She realized that some people were falsely put into Blackwell’s because they weren’t able to be understood or some how thought to not be in the right state of mind. Bly goes on to write, “ ‘….Even the sick ones know it is useless to say anything for the answer will be that it is their imagination.’ She also reported on the cultural insensitivity and language barriers experienced by immigrant women who spoke little or no English and a host of hostile and abusive treatments, from mandatory cold baths to confinement in small, damp, vermin-infested, locked rooms.” (Markel). It didn’t matter what you were brought to the asylum for you were there at the mercy of the courts, doctors, and nurses. Patients knew that nothing would help no matter how right minded you sounded. The doctors and nurses would twist words so that you would sound more mentally unstable then before. After she got out and wrote about the cruel mistreatment at Blackwell, the poor conditions of living, little to no food, lack of sanitation, along with the abuse and mistreatment of the people, the state of New York started a investigation into the abuse. After Ms. Bly’s articles were printed, many of the horrifying problems she talked about improved. Better living conditions, sanitation improved, more nourishing food was giving to the patients, more translators were hired for the foreign speaking patients. One of the result was the doctors and nurses that had been the most abusive were fired and replaced.
Today the world is still interested with the asylums and the fear of the human mind, we have television shows like American Horror Story Season 2: Asylum. Lana Winter is one of the main characters seen through out the seasons, played by Sarah Paulson. In this season we see how Lana goes undercover into Briarcliff Asylum for a story and ends up getting a whole lot more then she bargained for. The portrayal of Lana Winters is directly inspired by Nellie Bly with some changes for the dramatics of the show. If Nellie Bly had not done her undercover investigation we wouldn’t have the truth seeking, smart, and investigating Lana Winters of American Horror Story. Both ladies are dedicated to there work of journalism, and want to expose the truth to better the lives and inform the people of the evil happenings in the asylum. As we get to know people inside Briarcliff we see that some of the patients are mentally ill as well as some that are falsely locked away. The fear of mentally ill people inside, along with the practicing of “treatments” on human is enough to keep them locked up so they can’t share the truth what was really happening inside the walls of the asylum.
Movies are another way that Hollywood shows it’s fascination, the first movie that comes to mind is 2010 Shutter Island. You could say that Shutter Island could be categorized under Cohen’s These VI: Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire when he writes, “The monster awakens one to the pleasures of the body, to the simple and fleeting joys of being frightened, or frightening…”, if you’ve seen Shutter Island you know this movie has you jumping, scared, and unable to look away while playing tricks on our minds. In this film we are introduced to US Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule while they are on there way to Shutter Island in Boston Harbor which is the home for criminally insane at Ashecliffe Hospital. We get inside the mind and emotion of Mr. Daniels as he is looking for a missing patient by the name of Andrew Laeddis. As we see Teddy Daniels struggling with his own emotions and thoughts. We over look different moments that should stand out, letting us know something isn’t right.
The examples in the video are just some of the things we over look because we have been going with Daniels view through his eyes and mind, an therefore are attached to his character. In the end we find out that the US Federal Marshal Teddy Daniel is really the dangerous killer Andrew Laeddis.
Teddy Daniels talks to Dr. Sheehan who he still calls Chuck at the end, “This place makes me wonder….Which would be worse to live as a monster or die as a good man?” At the end it shows that in Teddy’s mind he believes he’s on the good side. Do you think that makes us crazy that we might feel sad for him as he walks away with a couple of orderlies assumingly about to go have a lobotomy done. At the end we could wonder if our own mental state is steady.
With television and movies being good at setting up plots that mess with our mental being, maybe we are the crazy ones. Not to far away from us in the Inland Empire against the hills in Highland California is Patton State Hospital for those that do know what it holds the name gives us sufficient cause for us to have chills run down our spin and have wild thoughts running through our minds. The hospital was opened in 1893, for the criminally insane. The hospital can approximately operate on 1,527 beds as stated the CA.gov page for Patton. They house five different types of mentally ill listed here with a description:
-Incompetent to Stand Trial: “Felony and misdemeanor defendants found incompetent by a court are placed in a state hospital where the focus of treatment is to help them regain trial competency and return them to court so they may be adjudicated on their pending charges.”
-Lanterman-Petris-Short: “Conservatorships are for severely disabled individuals who represent a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness. They have not been charged with a crime,..”
-Mentally Disordered Offenders: “Parolees who committed one of a specified list of crimes and who were treated for a severe mental disorder connected to their original crime can be committed to a state hospital as a condition of parole for a period not to exceed the length of their parole term.”
-Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity: “Persons judged by the court to be guilty of a crime, but not guilty because they were insane at the time of the crime are committed to a state hospital for treatment for a period equal to the maximum sentence for their most serious offense, subordinate offenses and enhancements.”
-Sexually Violent Predators: “Individuals who are convicted of a legislatively defined set of sex offenses who complete their prison sentences are evaluated by DSH or independent evaluators.”
Once started as a way to help care and give treatment to the mentally ill for good, now turned into monsters. Metal asylums are not just holding so called monster but can be the monster as history has proved. The ill treatment, poor conditions for living, not having enough food, in some case like at Metropolitan State Hospital there was complete neglect for even noticing if patients went missing, there is a reported about a lady that went missing after she went for a walk around the grounds. It wasn’t until 2 years later when another patient came forward saying he had killed her and showed police were he buried the parts of her body and kept 7 of there teeth. Conditions and treatments are not the same today as they once were. Weather the fear of the people inside or the fear of mental asylums themselves for each their own reasons, is it fear that makes these places seem like it’s holding monsters in? Could the shock of how inside these walls, monsters lived among doctors and staff not just in the mentally ill patients as believed.
—biography.com Editors. Nellie Bly Biography. Biography, Last Updated 27 Feb. 2018. https://www.biography.com/people/nellie-bly-9216680. Accessed 4 Aug. 2018.
“One of Bly’s earliest assignments was to author a piece detailing the experiences endured by patients of the infamous mental institution on Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island) in New York City. In an effort to accurately expose the conditions at the asylum, she pretended to be a mental patient in order to be committed to the facility, where she lived for 10 days. Bly’s exposé, published in the World soon after her return to reality, was a massive success. The piece shed light on a number of disturbing conditions at the facility, including neglect and physical abuse, and, along with spawning her book on the subject, ultimately spurred a large-scale investigation of the institution.”
—Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Culture (Seven These). University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Accessed Jul. 2018.
“The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary) giving them life and an uncanny independence.”
“The monster awakens one to the pleasures of the body, to the simple and fleeting joys of being frightened, or frightening…”
—Department of State Hospitals-Patton. California Department of State Hospitals, Copyright 2016. http://www.dsh.ca.gov/patton/. Accessed 2 Aug. 2018.
Here it talks about when the hospital was established in 1890 and opened 1893. It was tells us a little it about the types of patients inside, Incompetent to Stand Trial, Lanterman-Petris-Short, Mentally Disordered Offenders, Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, and Sexually Violent
Predators each fallowed by a little description of each type. As well as a population and percentage for each category. There is a little overview of treatment and programs.
—Markel, Dr. Howard. How Nellie Bly Went Undercover to Expose Abuse of the Mentally Ill. PBS, 5 May 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/how-nellie-bly-went-undercover-to-expose-abuse-of-the-mentally-ill. Accessed 7 Aug. 2018.
….Even the sick ones know it is useless to say anything for the answer will be that it is their imagination.’ She also reported on the cultural insensitivity and language barriers experienced by immigrant women who spoke little or no English and a host of hostile and abusive treatments, from mandatory cold baths to confinement in small, damp, vermin-infested, locked rooms.
—Mental Institutions. Brought to Life Science Museum. http://broughttolife.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/themes/menalhealthandillness/mentalinstitutions. Accessed 4 Aug. 2018.
“Artefacts show keepers used physical restraints such as leg-irons and manacles. Some keepers adopted ‘management’ techniques developed by Renaissance horse – masters to control stubborn horses.”
—The Retreat. History of York. http://www.historyofyork.org.uk/themes/georgian/the-retreat. Accessed 3 Aug. 2018.
“Many believed that ‘lunatics’ were insensitive to hot and cold, sub-human, like animals. Beatings and confinement were accepted practice, as was underfeeding patients. In 1786, Joseph Townsend wrote on the subject, “Hunger will tame the fiercest animals, it will teach decency and civility, obedience and subjection to the most perverse”.”