Unseen & Unheard 2010 — Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital

To try to catch in a brief minute the influence of Dorothea Lynde Dix in terms of Mental healthcare in the United States is probably far beyond my capabilities. Certainly she established many many psychiatric hospitals one of them was Saint Elizabeth’s. She was very very committed to providing people an asylum which was a refuge a place away from the stresses and pressures of everyday life where they could come and recover from their mental disorder. Now, we were a federal hospital back then and we got cases from all over the United States. The crimes that they were committed for range from as little is attempted petty larceny to multiple rapes, murders, armed robberies… the poetry of crimes. The Facility is you know and some of it is nineteen fifties psychiatric care spaces. Cuts of green tile and hard floors and metal doors and windows, and that make it look like a prison. The Department of Justice investigated the hospital and found/felt that they were in violation of the civil rights of institutionalized persons. You’re here to do everything in your power to make them well enough to return to the community. But you have a responsibility to the people who live in the community too. That you’re not putting someone out there who can commit, you know maybe another bad offense. We are gradually increasing the involvement of the community in the life of Saint Elizabeth’s. In the past, the community was very involved.. And then over the years it became less and less welcoming that place, I think for the community. But now within the last two or three years, we’ve definitely opened our doors in welcoming the community here as visitors, as volunteers. Back when the hospital first opened in 1855 the primary treatment available was what’s called Moral therapy, and that was you provide people a calm serene environment that’s removed from the stresses of everyday life. You provide them staff that are caring and attentive and concerned about their well-being and that this environment and kind of care will help them recover. I think when we moved into building, we’re going to have an environment we’re really getting back to that aspect of care treatment and recovery is going to be far more possible and we’ll be able to really fully implement it.

18 thoughts on “Unseen & Unheard 2010 — Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital

  1. When I was in the Marine Corps, we used to do training exercises on these grounds. It's haunted to the max. This place made a believer out of me.

  2. I was a local high school volunteer who spent many hours with the patients at St. Elizabeth’s in 1963.  I remember those visits with emotion even after all these years.  At my young seventeen–me sheltered, me well-meaning and me naïve, to encounter ‘my’ ward of abandoned/discarded fellow creatures profoundly affected my life.  I am thankful for that opportunity. 
    …boys sitting on the floor rocking back and forth constantly…naked kids hidden in corners…that stench of urine.  Man oh man! 
    Granted, ‘volunteering’ was the trendy fashion among my academically high-end classmates at Anacostia High.  My friends left but I stayed and stuck it out. Not all ‘do-gooders’ are fake.  Honest.

  3. I was working at the HQ nearby and each night when I left it just felt like someone was watching me from the old buildings.

  4. i had no idea this was an old mental "help" hospital and happened to walk through the old campus on the way to Congress Heights metro. It felt so eerie the entire time and i had no idea why. now i know.

  5. That place is creepy and haunted til this day, they experimented and tortured the residence. people were abused, rapped, doped up unnecessarily and beat like animals. That's a case of….If these walls could talk.

  6. Does anyone else get a torture sadistic vibe from the guy with the white mustache? Look into his history of "treatment" of the most vulnerable. It reads like a sadistic man loose on the most vulnerable.

  7. Hi Dustin and Brad! I am sure you won't mind my posting this here: if anyone is interested in learning further about Saint Elizabeths and the individuals in care who reside there, we have a one-hour documentary called Voices From Within just now available to view on Amazon. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4OPK8K

    "Jimmy, Lew, Kevin and Calvin have been residents of Saint Elizabeths psychiatric hospital for a combined 160 years. All of them have serious mental illness, all have committed violent crimes, and each courageously reveals his story through the intimacy of a video diary. “Voices From Within” explores the complicated process of rehabilitation and recovery — following these men as they develop, shoot and produce their own stories. Do you ever wonder what happens to an individual who has been adjudicated “not guilty by reason of insanity” and is committed to a mental institution? And, more important, what happened before? Confronting misconceptions and unfair stereotypes about a controversial and stigmatized population, this documentary reminds us of our common humanity."

  8. Bullshit, this Hospital was built in 1855, if you look at Indian appropriations bills, the government who likes to act like appropriation means welfare. The opposite is true. The government THE INTERIOR, BIA, held in trust money that they collected for grazing leases, timber sales, and the sales of "SURPLUS" Property, for the tribes, even used the money from sales to build irrigation district. Most reservations had their own allotment acts, the that were created out of the Dawes act. Which was illegal in every instance in which they forced the people to take possession of allotted land. One of the amendments I found declared a payment from tribal coffers to ST ELIZABETHS. YET THERE ISN'T anything I have found yet that tells if there were any native Americans sent there, although like previously stated the government would on our behalf manage our affairs… There are over 15,000 brain specimen in jars, there are mass graves and OFCOURSE relied on no paper trail.

  9. Check out the documentary Suffer the Little Children made in the 60's by NBC talking about Pennhurst…Now THAT place was a true madhouse. Only within the last two decades did a class action lawsuit brought together by some of the patients get it shut down.

  10. A guy I met there told me that place is haunted. According to him one day some guys were doing some work in one of those buildings, and ended up running outside. He said they were so afraid, they didn't even want to talk about what they saw.

  11. I do believe we could cut mental health problems in half if we started being a little bit nicer to each other, honestly the way we treat each other is despicable.

  12. I work for the DC metro and we have an entry hatch to the track by an abandoned building on Pecan St. It was 2AM, zero lighting and zombies were walking around all over that place. Needless to say we didn't get out of the truck. I dont believe in ghosts or paranormal but that place had a certain feel to it. I've never felt that way about a place being haunted before but that place is eerie af! Dont believe me? check it out for yourself at 2AM.. Pecan St SE, Washington, DC 20032

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