Author Topic: McLean's Hospital, Belmont, MA late 70s  (Read 1692 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Anonymous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 164661
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
McLean's Hospital, Belmont, MA late 70s
« on: August 25, 2008, 07:17:56 PM »
Stumbled onto this site today.  I think I was one of the earlier generations of this whole racket.  Around 1978, my wealthy, abusive, alcoholic adoptive "parents" decided they needed a scapegoat for their increasingly dysfunctional behavior.  They discovered a teen program within a trendy mental institution.
I was an A/B student, active in sports and had only tried pot once at the time I was committed into the program.  I was 14 years old.  Talk about having to grow up fast.  

It is amazing and horrifying to see that the trend not only continued but burgeoned out into even more horrific offshoots such as the boot camps.  The stories all sound so familiar.  My entire family packed themselves into the car one Friday for my surprise commitment-I was told we were going for family counseling, but upon arrival was isolated off into a room with several psychologists were I was interviewed for 5 hours and then told I would be staying. The program consisted of daily encounter groups (humiliations, accusations, forced confessions...) and weekly "family meetings."  Because it was a mental institution, they were also able to resort to inhumane methods of abusive control-thorazine injections, fourpoint restraints, to name a few of the methods I was subjected to due to my non-compliance (escaping repeatedly).  

There was more illegal drug use going on between the orderlies and "patients" than I had ever seen in my life (because I had never been exposed to it) prior to my commitment. There was inappropriate sexual activity between the orderlies and "patients" as well as between the "patients" and "patients."  I fought off an attempted sexual assault by one of the orderlies during my stay at this prestigious institution.

My brother was literally in shock...shock that this was happening to me (he was a heavy drug abuser, full blown alcoholic and petty criminal at the time) and that he could do nothing to get me out. He showed up at every family meeting and would grab me aside and let me know how insane the whole thing was and to never forget it WAS NOT ME, it made no sense and to hang in there and not lose my sanity and to never give up hope that I would get out.  

They were able to keep me for about 6 months but because I had learned the insurance would not cover the days in which I had run away from the facility, I made it my goal to hit my parents in the pocket book as a means of dissuading them from continuing mental institution commitment as a means of control/abandonment. I didn't know at the time, but they had been researching other facilities during my incarceration-one of which was a state mental institution (luckily they refused to take me).  

Upon my release I was shipped off to an all girls facility, which I promptly escaped from by the 3rd day.  Police picked me up a few weeks later and I bounced through the foster care system for the rest of the year, leaving each home as quickly as I could.  Finally, I had myself legally emancipated through the court system at the age of 16.  Can certainly say, I have never forgotten the experience of being committed to that teen program, certain details, I can remember as though I were there this very second....and it has been 30 years since then.  
-Christine
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline iamartsy

  • Posts: 217
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: McLean's Hospital, Belmont, MA late 70s
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2008, 07:43:42 PM »
Unfortunately, sounds like Timberlawn in Texas. Restraints would be applied for weeks at a time. I saw some bad stuff. It was hard to believe an "accredited" hosptial got away with shit like that. I tried to go unnoticed and then they discovered me when I did a 72 hour letter. Then they decided room therapy (solitary confinement) would fix me. Thank goodness my parents finally allowed me to come home shortly thereafter and I left "at patient's request". I then went back to college 1000 miles from home and did not come back for 15 years. I still hate Texas, and hospitals still scare the shit out of me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8989
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile
McLean Hospital, mental institution scams
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2008, 03:01:03 AM »
@OP/"Christine": Were you at McLean when Anne Sexton finally got her wish to be committed there? At the time, I do believe it was considered to be a bit de rigeur for the depressingly artistic, or is that the artistically depressing? Or perhaps Sexton merely wished to emulate or compete with Sylvia Plath, who was rumored to have more credentials (and credibility) in both  of the aforementioned departments...  ;)

That said, I do not wish, in any way, to undercut what you must have gone through as a teenager. Both of the above noted compatriots at McLean were more or less willing adults during their respective tenures.

I have heard that it was more common than one might think, at the time, for "unruly" or "unmanageable" adolescents to be incarcerated in mental institutions as a means of getting them into a more cooperative frame of mind. I believe this may have started sometime back in the late 60s. By the early 70s, it was already a pretty entrenched modus operandi in certain locales (it may well have been earlier; my dates are based on cases that I actually know of). I imagine that the Boston, Massachusetts metropolitan area would be one of the forerunners of that trend, given the size of its medical community and its predilection for experimenting with the newest and most "progressive" methodology.

Although money seems to change hands as a matter of course these days (in the form of some kind of "finder's fee," I s'pose), I think -- back then -- some of these transactions were probably done more or less as a type of "professional courtesy." A "I wash your back, you wash mine" type of thing. Of course, there was also a certain degree of ideological involvement, as well.

The kids were usually mostly "behavioral problem" types, though some did already have juvie records. Mostly girls, since they were considered to be more malleable, but also some boys, especially if they were deemed to be of less violence-prone natures. Trouble at home, or trouble at school were usually precipitating factors...also drug-related activities and running away.

Often, there would be a school counselor or a family therapist involved, and the courts, if resorted to, would just railroad this thing through... A destination of a very controlled, lockdown facility with medical and psychiatric personnel integrally involved, probably seemed like a very sane solution to many a family court judge at the time.

The most telling feature of this whole phenomenon, though, would be the miraculous "cure" or "improvement in coping ability" that would appear in the kids chart just prior to the parents' insurance running out, and the kid's subsequent discharge from the mental institution.

These kids probably endured a hell of a lot of personal stigma over the years from these formative experiences -- they were deemed "mentally ill," for crying out loud -- and I think that has a lot to do with why one doesn't hear too many people talking about their time in those joints.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
-------------- • -------------- • --------------

Offline iamartsy

  • Posts: 217
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: McLean's Hospital, Belmont, MA late 70s
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2008, 09:24:57 PM »
I remember McLean being in "Girl, Interrupted" written by Susanna Kaysen. I read it and felt like she caved into the system. But yes they like malleable girls in certain income brackets with specific insurance.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8989
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: McLean's Hospital, Belmont, MA late 70s
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2008, 01:27:20 AM »
Btw, McLean is where Academy at Swift River's Frank Bartolomeo got his start. He was associated with McLean, and later with a private practice which was connected with McLean, for many years.

He received his doctorate from Simmons College (in the vicinity of McLean; 2007 or 2008?) while he was already long at ASR. So he must have continued to go back and forth (from Western to Eastern Massachusetts) for a number of years.

From his Brief Bio on ASR's website:

—•?|•?•0•?•|?•— —•?|•?•0•?•|?•— —•?|•?•0•?•|?•—

Bartolomeo, Frank - Executive Director

Frank Bartolomeo, Ph.D., LICSW has 20 years of experience in the child and adolescent mental health field in diverse treatment settings such as residential treatment centers, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and private practice. Frank relocated from the Boston area to Western Massachusetts when he became Director of Counseling in January 2005; he was promoted to Executive Director in March 2007.

In addition to direct clinical practice, Dr. Bartolomeo was the clinical director of Children’s Charter, Inc., a specialty clinic for the assessment and treatment of psychological trauma. He was also the Director of Child and Adolescent Outpatient Group Therapy at McLean Hospital in Boston.

Frank received his Master’ Degree in Social Work from Boston University and obtained extensive post-graduate training in child and adolescent therapy, in clinical and forensic assessment of psychological trauma, and in group psychotherapy. Frank also served as co-chair of the Children’s Group Therapy Association and in 2003 was awarded "Group Worker of the Year" by the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups. Frank’s academic appointments have included adjunct and assistant clinical professor at Boston University. He received his doctorate from Simmons College School for Social Work in Boston, where his dissertation was on group treatment in therapeutic day schools.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
-------------- • -------------- • --------------