Bioethics Blogs

Bring back the asylum: A critical analysis of the call for a "return to ‘modern’ institutionalization methods"

By Cassandra Evans
Cassandra Evans is a Ph.D. student in Disability Studies at Stony Brook University. She studies mental disabilities and ethics surrounding treatment, services, and access for individuals with mental disabilities. She is currently examining the history of institutions in Suffolk County, Long Island (New York) and what shape the “way forward” from institutionalization will take in the new millennium.
This post is a shorter version of a talk Cassandra gave at the Society for Disability Studies’ national conference in Atlanta, Georgia, June 11, 2015.
In early June, 2015, I visited Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, New York, (Suffolk County, Long Island). As I drove onto the Pilgrim campus, I felt as if I could be entering any of the other scores of institutions around the country—the pictures I’ve seen all look so similar and convey the same eeriness: high rise brick buildings with plain numbers on them, grass growing up all around, broken and barred windows, some areas with trash heaps on the grounds and graffiti on the walls. The names were different, but during their official operations, the treatments and results were similar—many individuals stayed longer than they ever wanted, many died and few were “cured.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.