Everyday we communicate with the people around us. We can only express ourselves as we are limited by physical and mental capabilities. Some of us cannot talk so we draw or write or paint. Some of us cannot create art from paint or clay but can with numbers and formulas. No one understands you any more than everybody gets you. Sometimes we take people for granted. Sometimes we don’t think that someone has anything worthwhile to express to us. Helen Keller could not hear nor speak, yet she taught the people she could reach volumes. Sometimes listening with our ears does not work because what we need to hear doesn’t make a sound. There is nothing that can’t be explained by an explanation.
Before we dismiss people, we should consider that we all are people trying to express one thing above all else, we all share a desire for choice. Choice to stay or go. Choice to fight or run. Choice of how to live or if to live. We all need someone to understand that we want to make a choice. If we don’t, we feel that we live as slaves and torment brews. At least for some of us.
In this week’s list, I wanted to share the experiences of those committed—voluntarily or not—to a psychiatric facility. From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to Nellie Bly’s 19th century expose to American Horror Story: Asylum, the “madhouse” occupies a weird space in America’s psyche, equal parts fascinating and feared. But the experiences of the patients and their caretakers are, obviously, very different than sensationalized cinematic accounts.
1. “Something More Wrong.” (Katherine B. Olson, The Big Roundtable, July 2013)
In this well-wrought essay, Katherine B. Olson profiles Alice Trovato, a woman and patient who mothers her unofficial charges and strives to make the most of her stay at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in the greens of Queens.
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