will brady's ruminations
FAITH + MENTAL HEALTH
PIX: At Foxboro State Hospital in Massachusetts, the top number is the patient ID, the bottom the grave site numberWayne writes imploring that behavioral psyche students learn about religious freedom
The event that prompted his writing was an annual memorial event that takes place at the old CVH cemetary in Middletown where patients used to be buried | They were interred without any identification, a practice typical of many "hospitals for the insane," St Elizabeth's Hospital
in Washington DC among them | At CVH efforts have been made to amend for this final injustice, by given those buried a belated recognition |
An online article at Insight
......Connecticut Valley State Hospital in Middletown, Conn., established in 1868, ...buried ...patients in its cemetery, where identities are known simply by the number on the gravestone. Garrell Mullaney, chief executive officer of the hospital, says that "this was a common practice for state hospitals back then. It was felt that the families of these left behind might suffer some indignity that their relative was mentally ill. So these families basically buried them anonymously. Today we would protect their names under the rubric of confidentiality. But back then it was a common practice to number graves. There was a stigma associated with having a relative in a mental institution."
"We take care of the cemetery," explains Mullaney, "but we don't have a historian to go back and find out the cause of death. The list of the people who are buried here, through 1933, can be found right here in the local library. Today we're naming these graves on a directory. We're putting it in the cemetery on a 4-by-8 foot granite stone, which will have the names and marker numbers of all of the patients. Three hundred to 400 names will be engraved on this every year, and it will take a couple of years to get it done. We didn't think these people should remain anonymous, and we made our argument that there already was a record of the people buried in the cemetery at the local library."
Unlike St. Elizabeths, Connecticut Valley apparently kept sufficient records in order to identify the plot of each of the patients buried in the Middletown cemetery.
Recognition and respect for the dead doesn't come easy, however | In a field with 1,147 other graves, this rusted steel post marks the resting place of a patient/inmate from Worcester State Hospital, buried there in 1988 | Judy Robbins, ex-patient and activist says of this on the National Empowerment Center's website "Do we deserve less respect than animals? We have a vision. We see the cemeteries both as sacred ground and sanctuaries for both the living and the dead. We see places of Peace and Beauty. We see proper memorials, a quiet fountain, and the sound of birds.
This latter-day acknowledgement of the personhood of souls confined to insane asylums is important but still doesn't speak to Wayne's concern; namely that clinicians are reluctant, perhaps even unwilling to recognize the spiritual connection that people have while confined to such places |
Spirituality, and the system's acknolwedgement of individual religious beliefs has to happen if such places are to even come close to being "places of refuge" | In Connecticut, state law asserts that prayer itself can be a "treatment modality" | Indeed, it seems that recognition of one's faith should be a pivotal component to consider when assessing one's needs when entering a mental hospital |
When I work, there are Muslims, 7th Day Adventists, nominal Roman Cathotics, a man who seeks to practice Native American traditions [like the smudging ceremony
] and people who profess no religious beliefs at all |
In contrast, clinical practitioners learn from places such as the DSM IV-R
[Diagnostic + Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders] and in classes about "religious ideation
" in psychotic thinking | And while personally I wouldn't rule such a phenomenon out [as contrasted with a person's articles of faith], I know from observation that, all too frequently an individual's religious beliefs get dismissed as tangential if not irrelevant to having mental problems |
I may be wrong but I suspect it is that lack of distinction that Wayne has concerns about |
Returning to the opening topic of this post, namely how the dead are put to the grave, without knowing what a patient's beliefs are regarding spirituality, then when one dies, the staff lack the knowledge of how to send one off with providing proper respect to the person who is being laid to rest | And that, too, would be wrong |
LANGUAGECommon Errors in English Usage
| I've got to thank Space Coast Web
for this one | I'vce already bookmarked it for myself and have also added it to my Links pages
under Language Tools | The page itself was compiled by Paul Brians, Department of English, Washington State University | He also has his own webpage
LANGUAGE"No credible witnesses"
| I've been meaning to write about this for awhile so here goes | In the GITMO Qu'ran defilement
case, this phrase seems to be the main defense against the disputed Newsweek report | It is is a phrase that rings loud in my head whenever I hear it |
You see, part of my day job is to interview patients/inmates who report allegations of abuse as they might have observed at a maximum security facility | In such investigations, I don't get to interview the staff, though I may read their witness statements | Over the years I've conducted interviews as part of investigations that, once concluded, are closed with no corrective measures in place to prevent some future occurance | The reason for dismissal? Ofttimes, "no credible witnesses
" confirmed the allegation of abuse |
But on this I beg to differ |
For example, in one investigation the victim, a young man bloodied and bruised, had a cut in his face closely resembling a unique square ring that one of the employees freqntly wore to work | Other employees, while acknowledging being in close proximity to where the event took place, denied seeing anything happen to the man; "He must have fallen on a loose carpet" one staff statement read | Apparently no one noticed that there were no carpets on the linoleum tiled hallway floor |
In contrast, in that same incident, I'd taken six patient statements, three of whom reported observing the employee push the man to the
floor while moving his arm as though punching the man's face [no one actually saw the hand touch the victim's face]
I could rattle on with numerous other examples, examples where I personally collected and transcribed many witness statements frome people who did not have time nor ability to collude and make cross-alibis for one another | People who had no reason to lie | People afraid that, without coming forth, feared they might be the next victim of abuse |
So it is with the GITMO defense of personnel assigned to monitor, interrogate and yet, safeguard, inmates under their purview | When I hear "no credible witnesses
" the effect it has on me is to believe the allegation so refuted | There is, then, mostly likely a lot of truth to the statment as made |
Were copies of the Qu'ran defiled? My guess is 'it happened' | On the other hand, on this instance, I also find myself agreeing with Charles Krauthammer [a man with whom I rarely find myself in accord] sectarian bombings of a mosques
wherein many copies of the Qu'ran were also likely defiled, is at the very least equally as bad | Can't say I agree that the response, rioting in cities on the other side of the globe, is warranted either | I don't doubt that others, less interested in protecting the sanctity of Holy Writ, fanned some true believers into a frenzey over the matter ...but I digress |
In this instance, Holy Writ was defiled, and most likely some who did this intended to disturb those they were watching | But were there "no credible witnesses
"?, I doubt it |
NOTE: The incident described occurred more than 5 years ago | Administrators at the facility where it occurred have a clear policy of not tolerating inmate abuse and since that occurred, many personnel changes, including firing of staff and have taken place and imposing early retirements | PIX CREDITS: Attica picture from YLE's Documentaries [text in Finnish], GITMO pix from Mother Jones | AND WHILE YOU'RE ON THE SUBJECT: See Bilmon's Qur'an desecration at Guantanamo Gulag, the USA Today story of the soldiers pissning on the Koran and Global Security's training tactics for interrogation |
NEWS BLIPSerial Killer placed on Life Support
FAREND, GA [UPI] The Warden of the Oswagatichie Regional Corrrectional Center [ORCC] ordered a comatose inmate, Bobby "Big Fist" Whalen, to be kept on life supports after he suffered a stroke last Wednesday. Whalen, age 49, was serving the first of 17 consecutive life sentences for his part in a ritual mass murder of migrant feather boa seamstresses working in an Atlanta, GA sweatshop back in 1979.
Franklin Upstand, Warden of the prison and an elder of the Hallelujah Enlightened Church of the Holy Redeemer, said that he was issuing this order after it was determined that Whalen would not survive without this measure taking place. Warden Upstand's decision was based on the length of Whalen's sentence and the Warden's faith that Justice must be rendered, however difficult the tests that society has to meet to accomplish the sentencing.
"I have faith that the Almighty has given us this challenge to show humanity's resolve. Members of the jury who convicted this barbarian spoke their intent clearly when they sentenced him. God would not have guided them to make this decision had He not intended to set Whalen as an example to others. His effort to escape his sentence by trying to die shows all of us what little remorse he had for the sins of murdering innocents."
The murders, and the trial that followed, somehow escaped the attention of the media in 1979. This time it's different. Warden Upstand said that his office has been deluged with calls from reporters and journalists across the country asking about his decision. Talon News reporters broke the story first.
Said Warden Upstart, "It is my earnest prayer that, now that the news media has gotten hold of the story, they will take a second look at the grizzly details, search into the facts behind the murders, and finally bring the sordid story to light so people will remember the poor women who died silently at this wretch's foul deeds."
"God has given us the technology to ensure that all murderers serve the full terms of their sentences. Why should we let it go to waste?"
MONTREAL TRIP RECAPimagine this picture as a jigsaw puzzle 30 foot x 6 foot in size while the pieces no larger than 1/2 inch squareThere was so much to see, and do, and mentally absorb
| Some notes from the off-line journal/sketchbook |
It was the first time we'd ever been able to see Cirque du Soliel in it's home turf | Even at that this took place only because we bought tickets in December 2004 | As with other shows we'd seen elsewhere [Boston; Hartford, CT; on BRAVO network] the more than abundant feats of physical virtuosity were breath-taking | Costumes, while by and large a play on on early Italian Renissance fashion eccentricities, where nonetheless original, colorful and augmented the scenes passing before ur eyes | And, as usual, langauge remained unimportant | And I can't forget the whistler nor the little girl [a midget, actually] being tossed about wearing a circular harness attached to half a dozen HUGE transparent, spheroid balloons |
Then there was the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal | There, in addition to catching Fiona Tan's St Sebastian
[see entry below], I was intrigued by a 2003 video/film by Vancouver based artist Damian Moppett entitled 1815-1962
[check his work at Catrina Jeffries gallery
under "artists"]; a series of jigsaw puzzles [regrettably, I didn't scribe the name of the artist] that included a 30'x6' multi-imaged copy of Brughel's Tower of Babel [just the thought of putting together a jigsaw puzzle ofthat size is staggering] and a series of constructions, origami-like using old magazines and junk but transformed into several obsessively beautiful pieces |
"Culture missed" included events offered as part of the festival de Theatre des Ameriques
and the coreography of Ohad Naharin
[all performed the same night we went to Cirque du Soliel]
The archers prepare
oblivious of those passing by
not attentive to detail
yet this is no different than life
There is disappointment, too
though impassive visage is not the same as
"showing no emotion"
no giggling geisha stereotypes here
INTENTIONAL COMMUNITYWhile traveling to ~and from~ Montreal, I read February House
a new book written by Sherill Tippins | The book's a detailed recount of an experiment at creating an intentional artists' community; the intent to see what could be done to spark creativity |
Set in the year just before the United States entered World War II, tenanted by the likes of Wynstan Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, George Davis, Carson McCullers, Paul and Jane Bowles, Benjamin Britten and a whole cast of occasional residents and visitors from Erika Mann to Salvador Dali, their residence in Brooklyn Heights became a breeding ground for creative endeavor and thought-provoking ideas |
The confluence of these talented people, gathering together during such momentous times, set off a chain reaction of ideas and events not often observed so closely, yet which had enromous impact and influence upon the growth of a cross-pollenated culture between American and Europe |
Reading the book now, while the world is again in a state of flux and upheaval, only sharpens the message that telling the tale becomes but a part of depicting | There are lessons to be learned here; lessons to be learned and heeded | I don't often urge people to read books, much less historical group boigraphies, but this one is worth the visit | Find a copy somewhere, find a quiet corner, and get yerself some history |
FIONA TANWe saw St Sebastian at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
| This was comprised of two simultaneously played video clips, cleanly edited, of young women taking part in an annual Toshiya ceremony in Kyoto, Japan |
For the uninitiated [which, until Sunday included myself] this is a traditional archery competition and coming-of-age ritual for young adults of twenty from all over Japan | The ceremony has been taking place for over four hundred years | Ms. Tan focuses on the women's competition | The images, for both Bruce and I, were crisp, captivating and intense | I was particulalry intrigued with the muted expressions | They made a mockery of the hackneyed media phrase "...he showed no emotion...
" as if one ought to automatically engage in exaggerated expression every time some intense event affects one personally | The display of one's feelings, albeit sometimes subtle, ought always be evident to keen observer | And while it is disappointing that many media flaks are not so discerning, it is heartening that we have with us more astute watchers of humanity such as Ms. Tan |
|We made our annual pilgrimage to Montreal
| Pix to come later [the digital is down again] but here's some highlights:
On Edwin Holgate
| Compared to the last two exhibits Bruce and I saw at Musee des Beaux Arts
this one was almost modest is scope, but still impressive enough to buy the catalogue | I was intrigued by Holgate's approach to lights and darks | The oil paintings seemed to have mostly dark underpainting with lighter colors built up upon the darks, sometimes thickly enough that I could easily see the build-up | I noticed this technique in many works, both portraits and landscapes | I was also impressed with his woodcuts, which made me think of Rockwell Kent
as well as wonder how much he'd been taught by the Gitxsan peoples in British Columbia while he was out there in the 1930s |
Holgate's landscapes and portraits of those he knew seemed most vibrant | The World War II paintings looked more like he'd worked from photographs, which is quite likely | One display card noted that he'd "...grown unhappy with being in England [possibly since he was not permitted to explore as much as he would have liked] and returned to Montreal...
", painting his finished works in the studio |
After WWII, Holgate continued to work in the styles he'd become familiar with, eschewing expressionist and non-representational imagery | In fact, he didn't like these forms at all, contrasting his own work [on exhibit in 1953] thusly: "It's a quiet show, and pretty dull for the people who go for abstraction and psychological warfare in their arts...
Here's examples of some of his work
| And here's another viewer's perspective
on the exhibit |
While at the Musee we also viewed a gallery of Canadian Artists, mostly representational, peeked at a display of 20th century furniture and walked through a small but impressive display of Inuit sculpture and painting, including some bizarre spirit-inspired carvings done from whale bone |
For more info on the Canadian Arts scene visit Zeke's Gallery, an impressive site all on it's own | And for an ongoing presentation of fine arts and literature, visit Wood's Lot [also a Canadian-made site]