New York State has been taking care of its mentally disturbed, and those who are physically dependent on substance abuse, for over 150 years. Today our needs for this fair treatment, have become even more desperate, as now a a single sickness can destitute a family. The income disparity has made a very few able to afford the best care in the world, while the poor end up in Jail, or other inner city situations, not supported by the State any more. It is a shame that the hospital complex, that grew up so boldly over a hundred years in N Y State, is now closed. The the original 400 acres that were planned so grandly to be a haven for its inmates, have gone to waste. Where the industry of the inmates grew gardens, and ample crops and livestock, today there is a chained fenced blocking off a large institute of limestone and brick.
A hundred years before my birth American Dr. J Edward Turner did research in Europe and on return to his New York, entreateds the State legislature to pass funding and finally, “The United States Inebriate Asylum for the Reform of Poor and Destitute Inebriates” is chartered by the New York State Legislature. The institute a picture of true American largess is built in a stately Tudor castellated architecture style institute on 250 acres and is 320 feet wide and 82 feet deep made of solid stone and brick, to last a thousand years. The motto was “The object of the institution is to provide an asylum for the poor and destitute inebriate, where his physical and moral condition will be alike the care of the physician and philanthropist, and where his labor may be rendered productive and of service to his family. With the asylum will be connected Workshops to make the institution self sufficient and relieve prisons and almshouses.”
The institute under Dr. Turner provided large rooms with modern gas heat and running water all the ameneties know for a fine and healthy living over a century and a half ago. This temple to the destitute had many patients over the years and one was described in its violent ward as “ The patient used to call himself: “ZZZ Wafe Rainmaker Father Mother Simon Joseph Francis Carl”. He said he was the maker of Heaven and Earth. He sat in his chair in the hallway and shuffled all day. He sat all day in a chair and shuffled his feet back and forth and wore a considerable size depression in the wood” Those indentations into the wooden floor remain as a reminder to this day. It is an amazing fact of history that the good Doctor converted a tax on Liquor to fund such a pioneering institute, where the destitute were cared for in style and even treated..
In a testimony to his own treatment at the fine institute after a 100 sessions of shock treatment, first electro-convulsive, then metrazol, then insulin shock therapy William was pronounced cured. William upon his release went on to write “’The Mind in chains” Autobiography of a schizophrenic’. He published his memories in an autobiography, concluding to his readers: “So the dream which led me to the State Hospital still has possession of me, and where it will lead me only the future can reveal. I go forward in hope… my whole future is in your hands, at your mercy. I can only give my life, and you must make it or break it for me.”
In modern day such a frank discussion of a topic so dark, is not possible as a lot of the disturbed in today’s society, find no ready place to be fairly incarcerated, till they become productive members, of our human family again. I am truly stunned at William’s words, and what he must have just survived, at the institute to modern treatment methods, of mind control. His hopes are the hope of all mankind, his whole future is at our mercy to offer his whole life, to be made, or broken, by our trust. Today young Williams would be found in a prison, or homeless, with no hope, or dream. Has our society become so divided, that common human consideration, has been lost, in the wealth, of those; who have and no longer, care. Callous modern life has forgotten the basic needs of a society to take care of its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.
Such a pure raw emotion of hope and mercy, and to talk of a future hope, which will lead him on, is pure heroics, of a superior man. I salute his thinking as often times, a dark shadow comes over my soul also, and I am lost in this world. I can well understand how important it is at such times, of brief hope; to find mercy and compassion, in this world. Else there is only the dark sub conscious that grips me, and drags me to places I have been, but never acknowledged, even to myself. These are experiences I bury so deep in my mind, which it is best, that they be left to disappear. And may the darkness, shroud them in its veil, to be forgotten; as the dream that possesses us, has to be left at the State Hospital. The dream as he says still possesses us, and so we must go on into our future, wishing for hope and Mercy, but our mind is now in chains.
Dr Turner showed the way that a caring person can provide a way to care for the destitute and we must learn from his example. Our best hope in the future will be on how well we treat our weakest members now, else it grows dark.and realizatioin is lost.