The Hidden World
Publisher: Dry Bones Press (August 1999)
Format: PDF / Kindle / ePub
Size: 6.3 MB
Downloadable formats: PDF
For several years I had lived within commuting distance of two mental institutions. To me, they had appeared cold, forbidding, impersonal, and otherworldly. The mysteries that lay hidden behind the walls of these places had always held a perverse fascination for me. What untold, bizarre secrets did they enclose? What daily challenges and confrontations for their employees? And what sort of person would work in such places? In the back of my mind I kept the thought that I might one day see for myself the hidden world of the mentally ill, shut away behind the barred windows and locked doors of state hospitals.
Originally, the state chose isolated areas in which to place their mental institutions. A brass plaque in the lobby of the Administration Building commemorates the period of the 1890's, when the hospital carried the name, "Coastal State Farm for the Insane". The farm raised its own meat and dairy products and grew its own vegetables. But civilization inevitably pressed in upon the hospital grounds, and a town arose nearby. Since then, the oldest buildings and many of later design have been torn down. A continuing program of expansion over the years has given the institution a more modern look. In the early 1960's, one or two buildings were still in construction, their orange and brown steel framework rising in gaunt contrast to the bright blue of the sky.