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Monday, January 27, 2014

Shameful Things in the Dark
I made the decision to put this blog onto my paranormal blog as opposed to my Wordpress blog because of how dark the content is. This is in reality an autism/special needs awareness blog and those are typically only found on my Wordpress blog site. Many of you are already aware that I have a son on the autism spectrum  disorder and take pride in my activism of all things autism/special needs. Please be advised this blog IS NOT for the faint of heart. There will be things within this blog that will both disturb and upset you to learn, but awareness is how we can prevent the reoccurrence of horrific things. Below is a list of the two asylums I will be featuring inside this blog and the horrors that went on behind their elegant massive stone walls. Be advised once learning certain things they can never be unlearned.
1.      Pennhurst
2.      Philadelphia State Hospital (Byberry)
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Let’s begin with an introduction to Pennhusrt State School and Hospital. This was a place for the “feeble-minded”. A supposed haven for the special needs people. They were otherwise, prior to this place being built, housed in almshouses, county-care hospitals, and even in some situations were kept in prisons. Wow, you mean to say we imprisoned mentally retarded people whom were unwanted by family or friends, why yes, yes we did. Sounds like a good idea to build such a haven…Right? If only this place had truly been a genuine “Haven”. I assure you it was not. Pennhurst was ready to begin its nightmare reign in 1908.
The chief physician of Pennhurst openly quoted Henry H. Goddard, a leading eugenicist at the time as follows,
“Every feeble-minded person is a potential criminal. The general public, although more convinced today than ever before that it is a good thing to segregate the idiot or the distinct imbecile, they have not as yet been convinced as to the proper treatment of the defective delinquent, which is the brighter and more dangerous individual.”
Wow, really? I fear what proper treatment he was implying to. A mass murder maybe? Kill them all off at birth perhaps and sterilize the mother for birthing such a “thing”? I underlined the words that really sum up the meat of this quote and show the real callousness of these men. To me anyone who would say such things is themselves the defective, the imbecile, and the potential criminal. These untrue and with out a doubt biased opinions led to the ostracizing of people who needed and deserved compassion and community/family support.  
This also led to the general  thinking that people whom are declared “feeble-minded” should not be allowed to reproduce as well as live among any communities. There were even kids without any impairments placed here because their parents couldn't care for them and were also sterilized. Many people were forced to become sterile in and out of institutions. This chief physician was in charge of many individuals declared as such, and yet he had no compassion to speak of. This included people born with severe disabilities making them absolutely defenseless to the attacks of others. I will now illustrate what forms of punishments were inflicted on these “feeble-minded” people inside Pennhurst besides the wide use of forced sterilization and segregation.
If you misbehaved and lived in a high functioning cottage you were placed in a low functioning cottage. This was meant to degrade you. This stripping of your dignity was in hopes of teaching you a lesson. Basically if you wanted to act like an “imbecile” you can go live with them!!!! This left people with an IQ of 20 or less at the mercy of someone with an IQ of 69 or higher. The result was unspeakable. It ranged from rape to outright murder. One case that makes my skin crawl as well as enrages me the most did not occur at Pennhurst. A poor man with mental retardation annoyed his roommate by behaving retarded, said the annoyed roommate. The roommate decided to place the mentally retarded man’s head beneath the head of his bed and jumped on the bed until his head was flattened. This subsequently killed the poor man and ended the murderers said annoyance. People were maimed and emotionally scarred for life and couldn’t help themselves. There simply were no rights acknowledged for anyone deemed “feeble-minded” leaving such acts as before mentioned allowed with proper repercussion.
If you bit someone you got only one warning. A warning such as medication that would sedate you or placement in seclusion. If you bit a second time all your teeth were removed without further form of treatment for that behavior. Some of you may say “well what can do if they won’t stop biting people?”. Some of you might try to reason or justify that this isn’t such a bad punishment, but allow me to explain it in a better way. Lets say this person is confined to a wheelchair and isn’t able to go around just biting anyone they have a mind to bite. That means someone has to be in their personal space and this was that persons ONLY line of defense. Well guess what? That person had their teeth removed! People bit other people up to and including staff to defend themselves from harm. It was not just a “behavior problem”. I hope that offers enough clarity.
In many cases children called “hyper” or “uncontrollable” were given intravenous phenobarbital sodium to control them. This would include children the state didn't supply money to help with any/all skill learning. Treatments through things like OT and PT therapies were not available to them. A flat out lack of funding and staff allowed this to happen. Administering sedatives was far cheaper than hiring a person to teach these children how to behave.
A few extra things to pass on are how they would simply tie them down with restraints and leave them in a small closet sized room for hours if not days for any number of minor infractions! If all the strait jackets were currently in use they would use a gown to form a makeshift restraining vest. Some of these folks were kept for years in cages and never learned how to walk. At a different asylum, named Willow brook, they didn't have enough clothing for their residents forcing many to roam about naked!
There is much more to Pennhurst but I will end here. There were things I'm sure that happened in the bowels of this place that you, nor I will ever know a thing about. There were also staff that cared. Believe it or not many nurses, doctors, and administrators spoke open and honest about the hell that was Pennhurst. There are the same people that helped to see it closed down. This was a gross negligence at both state and federal levels. They spent dollars more on zoo animals than the people residing in this hospital. They had a problem with overcrowding and under staffing. I will end Pennhurst by quoting a sentence I feel was important that I heard in a documentary about this establishment. I have also listed the title to the actual documentary so you can watch it for yourself and see for yourself why I wrote this blog.
The quote
“Pennhurst is a monument to apathy until change can be brought about by concerned action”
The documentary
“Suffer the Little Children”
I will now introduce you to the second asylum on my list; Byberry. This is another place built for the people society didn't want. I will be touching base on what types of methods were used to “cure” these insane people. There were of course mentally retarded individuals housed within this place alongside the true definition of insane as this was a commonplace happenstance. These places were a sort of “catch-all” for the undesirables or a human garbage disposal if you will. That would ultimately include the poor, drunkards, mentally ill/delayed, but also other more shocking reasons for placement. One such forced placement that lifted my brow was men and woman alike being placed by loved ones because they’d been caught masturbating! Woman were sometimes placed because they were menopausal! I will begin with a history of the horrors of the above mentioned insane asylum.
The best place to start is by a simple introduction to Byberry. It opened in 1907 and by the time it closed its doors it housed over 7000 people. What started as a small work farm intended for housing no more than 200 souls eventually bloomed into a blood red flower of pain and suffering. The tyranny of this place is legendary. The deaths in the place will undoubtedly boggle you like they did me. How anyone could do such a thing to another human being is beyond my own comprehension. Patients suffered monstrous acts both by the hands of their trusted staff and fellow suffering roommate. Acts of extreme rage and extreme violence.
Allow me to tell you of the very first methods in our history for treatment of the impaired. Before asylums were built people who were different in anyway were sometimes sent onto ships called “ships of fools” and sailed from port to port. They died quick from various diseases or acts of violence in the hulls of the ships. At times they might be sold to the public to be tortured and killed on display. In early years doctors would lower their patients into snake pits hoping the shock might cure them. In mid-evil times it was believed these people were demon processed thus dehumanizing them was done with great ease. Although Byberry is in a more modern setting it wasn’t much better to its patients. These people could look forward to treatment such as being strapped to their beds and left for days. They were forced to urinate and defecate themselves and that might be the first few days of your stay. Unfortunately that might be the best case scenario as apposed to being placed into a long term unit.
One worker chocked a patient until their eyes popped out of their head and was fired. Believe it or not he was later reinstated with a pay raise. Without any explanation all was forgiven and this was done by a politician no less. That may be hard to fathom except there might be a fairly easy explanation for it. The workers for such a place were hard to come by so a solution was found. They hired people as a part of their sentencing; it was either go to jail or work at Byberry.
It was so bad inside Byberry the state took over by force in the fall of 1938, but it wouldn't improve the buildings or lives of the consumers living there. In fact the first state representative to do a walk through described the conditions of both occupants and buildings as worse than a mid-evil pest house! And yet this man did nothing about what he’d seen. He went back to his office and onto more time worthy causes.
After world war 11 there was a new understanding of mental illness. The USA found their returning soldiers needed care for shock. The military canceled its contract to have its servicemen treated at Byberry. They claimed it was because of how appalling the condition the state hospital was in. Sadly the military also would leave the current residents to continue to decay and die unnoticed. Life inside this place was actually compared by newspapers and magazines tot he world at the time as being like the Nazi concentration camps! Again this was all well known facts that no one debated but the people were left behind. The world went onto more interesting articles to read. Byberry and its ill treatment to its patients was left to remain as is yet again.
The curse of all the asylums of no money, too few staff, and far too many patients ran rampant here. Even with well-intended people trying their best to make changes nothing seemed to help. Their simply was no outcry for these people to be treated as real people! You can look up the pictures and film and see just how heinous this place was. Tiny rooms crammed full of naked people and no staff to be seen. Often showers were done by the masses in a courtyard by high pressure hoses due to lack of proper number of staff. This asylum and all the others were nothing but warehouses for the damned. A stockpile of unwanted men, woman, and children alike.
It would be in the late 1980s when reports of severe sexual and physical abuse reached the right ears. The woman who blew the whistle was a patient herself. After she reported the rape she suffered to her mother, her mother acted. With the aide of staff they got the proof smuggled out of Byberry, but she went on to lose her treatment through these actions. The treatment was very innovative and only found at Byberry. Unfortunately the treatment she received at Byberry was the only treatment to have helped her at all.
She would never again receive this treatment, and ended her life a few short years later. This woman may have taken her life but she saved the lives of many. Her testimony helped to close the doors of Byberry and freed those imprisoned there. May god rest your soul Anna. The stonewalling of the documents detailing these accusations became the downfall of this asylum. Abuse against patients by staff and fellow patients had sky rocked out of control, and as the saying goes “evil had permission”. This woman’s bravery stopped evil in its tracks and took that permission of silence away. I personally thank her and think it shouldn't have cost her life.
In the process of closing such a humongous place many things great and some things terrible began to happen. People at first were thrown to the streets and a brand new form homelessness surfaced. Crimes by and against these severely mentally ill/retarded individuals released from the asylum took place. Suicides began to happen one after another. The state was finally forced to allocate proper funds and begin some great and long term community based care.
We live in a new time. Most of our minds have been reformed to a more humane way of thinking. No longer do we segregate those different from us. It is key essential that we continue to hold not only ourselves ,but our state and federal systems accountable. We as a whole are responsible for the direct care of those unable to care for themselves! We are our brothers keep.
It’s up to us to ensure funding isn’t hampered just to save money. If we turn our backs again the reinvention of such places will happen. I can set the blame on the states, the federal, but are we not also to blame for any regression that occurs? If we allow people to become dehumanized once more terrible and unspeakable things will happen again. “Evil will have permission” to pick its victims from the defenseless. Check your own state.
I found in my own state that a growing number of deaths are happening here and all across the United States. The people dying are our children at the hands of orderlies and teachers/aides. Improper restraint is the direct cause of these deaths. At present there are very few states who have any rules or regulations for the proper restraining of a child. This allows people untrained to make a slight mistake and strangle or break the neck of a little kid. The abuse is still out there guys. Improper restraint in our history caused loss of eyeballs and limbs! Will we turn our backs and allow this to continue to take place?
We can organize and force our states and our federal government to place restrictions on this. We can demand reform and the proper training on these “holds” being used far too often and with far too much force. We can place cameras in classrooms where children with special needs are being taught preventing any form of abuse from happening. We’ve seen what doing nothing can do. Let’s see what shouting out loud and doing something can do!
Let’s not sit idle and wait for another news story about the death or mistreatment of a handicapped child. A child who cannot defend themselves. There is still a fight to be fought. There is still a cause to be made public. Sadly the battle for equality and safety for people unable to protect themselves isn't won just! Spread awareness, make demands of equality, and that’s what brings about change.
Eugenics: A history of true horror
I am not, nor will I ever be a racist or a bigot! Every man/woman is equal but very uniquely themselves. There is not one stupid person because of what color their skin happens to be. No one has a right to mistreat a fellow human being because they think they are better than they are! Eugenics was a terrible thing that some people tried to use in order to make themselves feel like kings. I will highlight below the worst of the worst eugenics the world has ever known. Maybe by understanding how this ever came to be we will ensure it NEVER happens again!!

Leading doctors at the time applied the theory that if an animal could degenerate so than could a human. The age of making human pedigrees was born. When they began to openly apply animal study to humans, bad things ensued. The world began to desire a world free of violence/crime, mental illness/retardation, and eventually the creation of a “PERFECT” race was ushered in. The first thing to come of this idiocy was the thoughts to end reproduction of the inferiors. This would be anyone who was mentally ill/retarded, poor, and not white and educated. Forced sterilization began to be a common practice.
In Cold Spring New harbor, New York two men named Charles B. Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin in 1910 (biologists by trade) began an archive office called ERO. This would become the headquarters for America’s eugenics research for the next thirty four years. They collected census data and interviewed particular groups of interest. They toiled away and spent lots of money collecting biased documentation to further their theories.
They targeted circus acts and other groups they deemed undesirable. They went after the minorities and poor educated communities. They held great power over the general public. They governed immigration and  all marriages, at the time. Just about every American at the time was all ears to anything that came of their research.
They forced sterilization among criminals and other’s they found to be undesirable in way. They had a hand in keeping black and white people segregated. They kept the asylums such as I documented in this blog alive and well. They did a lot of cold and calculated studies but kept vital information suppressed. They labeled poor and others they didn’t want in their neighborhoods likely to commit crimes without omitting certain facts. Facts such as the lack of opportunities afforded to these people. If you do not offer education then how are these people to become thus educated? If you trap them in unlivable housing and offer no alternative how can living conditions therefor improve? I guess they found those facts made their great study results not so great.
They laced their mockery and scorn of their fellow man with sugar coating tactics. They trumpeted this was all to make the entire world a better and safer place for all to live. They wanted to eliminate the reproduction of races and poor classes so they would no longer be forced to deal with such undesirable people. It's sad but many people fell for this. At one point there was backing by several presidents and even the Catholic Church. This all happened right here in our backyard.
Hitler himself even sang America’s praises on our stance of supporting eugenics and our resent talk of euthanasia. He agreed vehemently with these studies. There was an alarming and growing number of devoted eugenicist. They all encouraged mass elimination of anyone who wasn't the exact match to a perfect race. How can we forget our own dirty American hands in that time frame? Much of Hitler's systematic murder of first the asylums patients, and then the prisoners in his infamous concentration camps can be accredited to our own eugenics program.
The works of these men popped up all over the world. Terms such as racial hygiene was suddenly a household word. There were even fairs where the fittest family won prizes. The spread of ignorance was far and rather wide. Terrifying solutions were handed out by various doctors at the time such as euthanasia better known as genocide! Believe it or not this was happening right here in America and not just Germany. Imagine if you will a popular magazine on science and fitness began today circulating a theory on racial superiority. Those articles might also include the necessity of killing anyone beneath your class.  It might even clap historical events on the back for the deaths of so many unwanted individuals. How many people do you know personally that would be included in that mass murder scheme?
Indiana, my own home state, became the first to legalize forced sterilization of any that was found to be unfit to reproduce and unfit to exist. California would go on to become the leading state in forced sterilization and to date refuses to compensate its victims. By the end of the eugenics era 60,000 men, woman, and children had been sterilized without their consent. Anyone found to be colored, uneducated, living in any type of institution, and the poor were all branded to be unfit.
The perfect world these men so badly tried to build for themselves could never come to be. The perfect world would be one where poverty and un-education were nonexistent but the steps to bringing that to life, they would not do. This perfect world would have to be a one for all and all for one. We would step up without complaint and feed our hungry, clothe the clothe less, and house the homeless. Maybe we could have that world if you, even me, and everyone else took all that to heart and did it. There are some that do all that, and they are all saints. Thank you for the time you spare, money you give, and the effort you put in.
This world I speak of will never happen. Not when rich worship their gold over their responsibility to help their fellow man. All of us are here only a short time. What we do or do not do will impact this world for a long time after we check out. I would rather love than hate. I would rather sacrifice myself than toss another under a bus. You can look up asylums and eugenics but what can you do about what've you learned?
For starters you can snoop through everything and see that those things are behind us. You can ensure yourself and your children are not behaving with racism or bigotry in your hearts. We can as a whole bodied planet demand together a demand for equality for all. The horrifying actions of this nation’s past will happen again if we allow ourselves to forget.  Become aware and hold yourself accountable, and your state, and your federal governments. Evil is a machine and it doesn't sleep. Be watchful and be aware that's the best any of us can do.

 
   



  

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