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From Sanctuary to Snake Pit: The rise and fall of asylums

This is a discussion on From Sanctuary to Snake Pit: The rise and fall of asylums within the Photographic essays and classic photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; I found this photo essay as I was reading New Scientist. I found it to be a very interesting photo ...

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    Default From Sanctuary to Snake Pit: The rise and fall of asylums

    I found this photo essay as I was reading New Scientist. I found it to be a very interesting photo essay. I have seen some of these institutions first hand when I was an orderly in one of my previous lives. It was still fairly barbaric, it was getting better but once you see several people after shock therapy you see the world in a different light. I also now believe we like the article states come back to a place where even the most disturbed people are treated like well people at least in some of the more civilized societies, ill treatment is still the main stay of those with mental afflictions in many parts of the world.

    From Sanctuary to Snake Pit: The rise and fall of asylums
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    Very interesting article...amazing to see the original lofty ideal and the fiasco it eventually morphed into. Wouldn't it be cool if they could figure out a new use for those beautiful buildings! Ill treatment is the mainstay for many types of disability be it mental or physical in many parts of the world.
    Reminds me a bit too of the low income housing projects that started up in the 60-70's...kind of ended along the same lines in a way.
    Thanks for sharing......
    Last edited by casil403; 11-18-2009 at 10:52 PM.
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    Well here in Toronto they did save the buildings at the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and turned into a college campus. Two summers ago I spent a few days volunteering to find the remains of those buried with no markers or headstones, it was sad what they did even to them at the end. Here is the history of this one institution. I have photos from there but I cannot access them right now they are on my external drives on my desk.

    Asylum by the Lake
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    Quote Originally Posted by AcadieLibre View Post
    Two summers ago I spent a few days volunteering to find the remains of those buried with no markers or headstones, it was sad what they did even to them at the end. Here is the history of this one institution. I have photos from there but I cannot access them right now they are on my external drives on my desk.

    Asylum by the Lake
    Very interesting...
    That is so sad...no grave markers nothing....and that they used "patient labour" ...sounds like slave labour from the description actually..... to construct the buildings without pay or any restitution!

    Mental illness has such a negative stigma attached to it.....I also have to wonder how many patients with intact cognitive ablility but physical deficits such as CP were housed in these places as well and deemed insane?
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    Here's an article I found from Alberta:
    The Famous Five - Emily Murphy - Sterilization of the Insane
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    Unfortunately it was common for those deemed unfit, incorrigible, Mental Deficiencies they were sterilized all over North America, what a horrible thing that was done to these poor people. Tragic all around. Thanks for the link, very disturbed thinking behind the authour of that 1932 article and justifies it with religion, how sickening.
    “I take photographs with love, so I try to make them art objects. But I make them for myself first and foremost - that is important.” Jacques-Henri Lartigue

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    Quote Originally Posted by AcadieLibre View Post
    Thanks for the link, very disturbed thinking behind the authour of that 1932 article and justifies it with religion, how sickening.
    Your welcome AL...
    The thing of it is, the woman who wrote that article, Emily Murphy was one of the "Famous 5"...they lobbied and eventually won the right for women to be able to vote in Canada! Before that women were considered non-persons, much like the people she writes about in her article about forced sterilization for people with mental illness.
    I didn't know about this side of her until now.....how sick and ironic.
    Here's some more letters she wrote:

    http://www.albertasource.ca/aspenlan...r_emily_2.html
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    I too worked with mentally disabled adults for a number of years in a previous life. Although it wasn't at all perfect, the conditions were actually decent; much better than the conditions from this essay.

    I also did some photography of these residents. One of these days I'll post a few of them. Thanks for sharing the link A.L. and others!
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    Quote Originally Posted by casil403 View Post
    Your welcome AL...
    The thing of it is, the woman who wrote that article, Emily Murphy was one of the "Famous 5"...they lobbied and eventually won the right for women to be able to vote in Canada! Before that women were considered non-persons, much like the people she writes about in her article about forced sterilization for people with mental illness.
    I didn't know about this side of her until now.....how sick and ironic.
    Here's some more letters she wrote:

    http://www.albertasource.ca/aspenlan...r_emily_2.html
    I would be careful regarding the judging of this. I know that we look at this forced sterilization and see it as the grossest infringement on human rights. Unfortunately, for those deemed mentally unfit life was not a good existance. There was no reliable birth control and many women and children with developmental delays and mental disorders were sexually abused. Hell, women and children without developmental delays and mental disorders were (and are) sexually abused. In many ways the removal of reproduction probably did save them physical, emotional and mental harm. of course I do not agree with it, but I do see that they were doing the best they could in the circumstances they lived in.

    Unfortunately there are people who should not have children and do. In the course of my work I have worked with parents who have the mental age of approxiamately 10-14 years of age. As a society if we decide that it is inhumane to deny anyone with reproductive organs the right to bear children, then it seems to me that it is encumbant upon that society to provide supports so that the children can be raised in a safe, secure and nurturing environment. I remember one case in which the mother would become angry if she didn't get to play with the toys and did not want to share with her daughter who was in therapy. the children's diet was abysmal and the care for them was substandard. The parents engaged in sexual activity in front of the children (they recognised that they weren't supposed to, but had trouble with impulse control). the home had rotting floors and there were toadstools growing on the wall in the children's bedroom. (and no, I am not making this up). As part of group of concerned health professionals we contacted social services. The result? Initially they said that 'yes, there was neglect but it wasn't intentional' so they closed the case. Later they removed the children. At no point did these parents get the support they needed to parent.

    Is it better to allow inividuals to have children only to remove them? I don't know the answers. No one does. All we can do is make the best decisions with the info we have at the time. I believe that that is what individuals like Emily were trying to to. so I forgive her.

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    I cannot forgive those who believed in forced sterilization for any reason. What she was doing was promoting eugenics which we all know led to the eventual champion of eugenics Hitler. Once you start down the slippery slope of denying people their human rights it leads to far larger and more horrible consequences. There is NO case for forced sterilization period then or now.
    “I take photographs with love, so I try to make them art objects. But I make them for myself first and foremost - that is important.” Jacques-Henri Lartigue

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

    "Vive L'Acadie, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, ou la mort!"




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