Week 12 Digital Resource Post

This instagram reel was made by a woman who makes a lot of “day in the life” content about being a stay at home mom home schooling her two young sons. In her posts, she is often dressed very beautifully and her home and life overall seem very happy and serene. Naturally, the comments on her posts are often filled with people alleging that she must be on some type of psychiatric medication in order to maintain this “perfect” life maintaining her home and caring for her kids. She at times plays into this, as was the case in this video where she recounts some things she does to practice self care, which includes a “post lobotomy appointment.” Both her post as well as the reaction to her regular content reference the association between white, middle class housewives and psychiatric care such as medications and lobotomies, with the implication that the traditional expected role for women is not something that can be achieved happily without some sort of intervention.

Digital Resource Blog Post Week 11

Linked HERE is an Instagram Reel that shows someone repeatedly opening a door and shining a flashlight around a room. It is captioned “POV you’re trying to sleep but you’re at the mental hospital” and “every fifteen minutes and they won’t close the door!” This immediately reminded me of Nellie Bly’s account and the accounts of other women of their time being institutionalized and the critiques they made that the environment of the asylum was not conducive to healing.

Week Ten Resource Blog Post

I was curious while reading The Protest Psychosis about what Ionia looked like, and when I tried to find out, I found this collection of images gathered as part of a project to collect oral histories of various psychiatric hospitals in Michigan. Most were of the buildings on campus, but there were also quite a few of what I think was on-sight farms (unfortunately not all of the images are captioned so it is hard to tell), tools used for therapy, and groups of whom I assumed to be staff. The patients themselves did not appear much in these images nor do any of the oral interviews I scrolled through on Ionia involve patients directly (a few were relatives telling patients stories), rather they were with former employees or members of the community who were in some way connected to the hospital.

Week Nine Resource Blog Post

The phrases “anxiety-themes T-shirts” and “mental health merch” really stood out to me when I saw this tweet, especially with the topics of diagnosis and medication both beginning to become more prominent in the reading we have been doing as of late. The headline screenshotted and the tweet itself both portray different ideas about how much one should really identify with both of these themes, with the author of the tweet poking fun at the idea of having these things on a t-shirt and the commercialisation of mental health, as well as at the idea of basically turning oneself into a walking advertisement for pharmaceuticals.

Week Eight Resource Blog Post

After finishing Girl, Interrupted, I googled Susanna Kaysen because I was curious about her life following her memoir’s publication and subsequent popularity, and I found this interview from this May, where Kaysen reflected on the book thirty years later. I was especially intrigued by her answer to the question of what positive changes she has seen in the field of mental health care, to which she asked if she had to have seen any. She elaborated that she felt that the decrease in stigma has led to the over-medicalization of what are rational emotional reactions to the stressors of modern life (she brought up covid at various other points as one such example) and expressed mixed feelings about reduced periods of hospitalization as it did prevent people from becoming disconnected from the “outside world” but also as a result the hospital no longer felt like a refuge. This was interesting to me because these so often are thought of as “advancements” and part of an overall improvement of mental health care, but Kaysen obviously felt otherwise and had clear reasons for doing so that made sense when she explained them.

Week Seven Resource Blog Post

Lately I’ve been trying to waste less time scrolling on Twitter and as a result have taken to wasting more time scrolling on Pinterest, which is where I found this really wonderful image of a My Little Pony character edited into what appears to be an old picture of a gate labeled “hospital for the insane.” While unfortunately I do not think that I will be able to work this into my project, it does tie into the larger question of what sort of reactions people have to the physical environment of historic psychiatric hospitals. Here, the punchline is both the literal and more subtextual juxtaposition between a bright image from a piece of children’s media and a darker image of something that overall has a negative connotation (since saving this, my Pinterest feed has been overtaken by similar memes, the majority of which I’ve seen using photos of dark y2k era bedrooms or, and this has been particularly interesting to me given my own area of study, pictures from around the Soviet Union). The brief discussion of popular references to lobotomies last class immediately made me think of this, and it also reminded me a lot of the jokes made about “Kirkbride core” images earlier in the semester with the sort of aestheticization of that era of mental health care.

Week Six Resource Blog Post

This news article from a week ago covers a story that, while I did not realize it at the time that I bookmarked it as a potential source for a post, mirrors many of the stories in Women of the Asylum quite heavily. A woman in Pennsylvania was committed to a psychiatric facility by her ex-boyfriend, who is a cop, based on false claims that she was suicidal. Similar to many of the stories told by 19th century women regarding being involuntarily committed to asylums, the ex-boyfriend used involuntary psychiatric treatment as a method of furthering abuse and, as part of his role as a cop, was able to do so due to a power imbalance in the relationship that meant his word held more weight than the victim’s and that he was able to make the decision to have her committed without thorough assessment of her mental state.

Week Five Resource Blog Post

I’ve been getting this really interesting ad on Twitter recently (please ignore the really poorly cropped screenshot; mobile is hard) that reminded me a bit of the blurry line between mental health treatment and spa treatment that we’ve mentioned a few times. I’m not totally sure in what way plunging oneself into a large bucket of ice water is to help one to fight anxiety and depression, but it immediately made me think of the idea of fixing an imbalance as a means of mental health treatment. I also looked at the website linked and was intrigued by the connection made between “wellness” and increased productivity within the workplace, with the motive for improving one’s mental and physical health being increasing their productivity at their job.

Week Four Resource Blog Post

I’ve been having a bit of a Green Day phase as of late and had the good luck of stumbling on the “Basket Case” music video, which is set in a psychiatric hospital. The video was really interesting to me because it itself seemed conflicted about the stance it was taking on the psychiatric hospital. At times, it utilizes some horror imagery — distorted colors and images, people wearing strange masks, the like — and it ends with the band being locked in seemingly against their will, or at least as an act that they’re not happy about. However, at other points in the video, it seems to view parts of the hospital more positively; for example, it is the attendants who bring the band their instruments and help them to start playing the song to begin with. The video portrays a really interesting mix of views on mental health practices that reminded me a lot of the conflicted feelings about various methods being helpful in some ways and harmful in others that we’ve seen going all the way back to Kirkbride.

Week Three Resource Blog Post

This was a video that I came across while doing research for my digital project but ultimately decided not to use. It is a video tour of the Fulton State Hospital in Missouri, which was built in the 1800s. Reading in chapter six of Tomes about the struggles that people like Curwen had with maintaining their institutions immediately reminded me of this video and the issues of out of date equipment and the way that the building was largely ill suited to caring for patients that seems to have remained a struggle in mental health care long after just the time period covered by Tomes.