Today, I went to McLean Hospital, (a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, and an affiliate with Harvard University,) to see the place that Susanna Kaysen described in her book: Girl, Interrupted.
I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the building because I didn’t want to look suspicious, or “mad-sus,” as they say in Massachusetts, but the inside of the building was generally pretty dank. The water and sewer pipes are right above your head as you walk through the main building. You can almost hear the screams and the cries of patients calling out in destress, as Kaysen said in her book. The only happy-looking place was the admissions building.
I’ve done quite a bit of research on psychiatric hospitals, and many reviews and books have told me that the way they treat their patients is not satisfactory.
Kaysen’s experience of McLean Hospital was in 1963. During that time, the hospitals used methods such as the electric chair and purging with leeches. Do physiatrics hospitals still use those methods?
Kaysen bravely published her book in 1993.
Although Kaysen didn’t write very clearly about what happened at McLean, we can still glean from her book that patients were not treated with respect, medicine was over-prescribed, and that patients were accepted into the hospital without much reason at all.
Kaysen herself was accepted into McLean after only an hour of talking to a psychiatrist.
So what goes on inside the walls of McLean hospital? How are patients treated? What methods does the hospital use? Purging with leeches? Confinement? Are the patients put in shackles? “Treated” with electric shock?
Are the patients happy with their life at McLean? Or do they feel like their life was interrupted when they went to McLean Hospital?
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