Monday, February 23, 2009

History of Psychiatry: 1920s Los Angeles

Over the weekend I saw a movie that came out last year called "Changeling". It is based on the true story of a woman in 1920s Los Angeles whose child went missing. The LAPD at that time was a corrupt organization that didn't take kindly to anyone crossing them, so when the woman's "son" was brought back and she pointed out the fact that this boy was not her son, they did what any self-respecting fascist would do: they had her committed.

The psychiatrists at the local psych hospital were quite happy to do as they were told so she was incarcerated and given "treatment" which to anyone other than a psych was obviously torture used in an attempt to shut her up.

While in the hospital she discovered many other women who were also there because they crossed the LAPD.

In the end, she was released and she campaigned until all the other women were also released and the law was changed so such easy commitment could not happen in the future.

But the sad truth of this movie is that it really happened and the psychs were happily complicit in this obvious violation of human rights as they have been throughout their history: Communist Russia where they were used to shut up dissidents; Nazi Germany where they were in charge of sending people to the death camp; 50s America where they ran the mind control experiments for the CIA, and on and on.

I highly recommend this movie as part of your education in the history of a dangerous subject which seems never to have had the good of mankind in mind.

1 comment:

Celtic Dragon said...

I too saw this movie over the weekend and I couldn't help to keep thinking the hell they put this mother through. The mental hospital scene where she was sent and when she found out what "code 12" was and when all the others were pointed at as such, it makes one wonder how this could have been.

It makes me wonder how many people today are in these places that were forced there just because...well you get my point.