Friday, August 24, 2012

Not What I Expected

When I found out I would be rotating at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital for two weeks during the psychiatry rotation (no, for the ob/gyn rotation! ha. ha. pity laugh?), I was very excited.  This was going to be a REAL psychiatry experience.  I've seen pictures of the old buildings, and I couldn't wait to be walking through them, imagining myself as a close personal friend to Dorothea Dix in the late 19th century (I'm very normal, I know).  I had this romantic vision of the historic hospital - even my dad told me stories about how HIS dad would drive him through the grounds as a kid late at night to try and spook him.

not the modern building, just a modern pic of the old one
So imagine my disappointment when I found out that a new modern (and totally boring) building replaced the old decrepit buildings in 2008.  Obviously much better for the patients and the staff, and it really is a beautiful facility.  But it looks nothing like the horror movie-style psychiatric hospital, and there's no history, and I haven't felt the presence of Dorothea Dix's ghost a single time so far!  While I understand this is a very selfish way to feel, it's not that I would wish the hospital to still be housed in dilapidated buildings, it's more that I wish I did my rotations four years ago so that I could see what the old romantic buildings were like.

A few of the old buildings are still standing, and they are gorgeous.  They are covered in ivy, and the windows are all boarded up, just as a historic haunted psychiatric hospital should be.  But there are lots of no trespassing signs around, and I tend to be a rule follower unfortunately, so I'll probably never get to see them up close.

The fate of the remaining standing buildings still seems to be unknown, but I'm hoping they don't get knocked down, but instead can be restored and one day re-opened in some capacity (something educational? a museum? a haunted house?).

view of the grounds in 1899

inside a ward, also 1899

 Disappointment number two came when I found out I would get to watch a court proceeding involving a patient.  There's a courtroom IN the hospital!  Court cases tend to involve renewing involuntary commitment status, and I was expecting something along the lines of the courtroom scenes in Harry Potter, where the poor patient sits in the center of a room, and there are lots of scary judges and doctors sitting high above, waiting to condemning them.  Turns out it's nothing like that at all (obviously), and it's really just a conference room with a judge.  What a let down!!

this is not what the court room looked like

(I really had a wonderful experience at Greystone, and I imagine that if I had had a psych rotation in the "romantic" 1950's or earlier, I probably would have walked away completely scarred for life.  I just like feeling like I'm part of history, and sometimes my imagination over-exaggerates.  In NO way do I wish psychiatry was anything like how it used to be - although, it turns out that Greystone was built according to the Kirkbride plan which was actually supposed to be a more humane and compassionate way to treat mentally ill patients, ruined of course by overcrowding.)

Check out more old-school pictures of Greystone here: 1899 photo album
For more modern (and colored) pictures, as well as info about other Kirkbride buildings: Kirkbride Buildings, Greystone
And lastly, for more info on the history of Greystone: Preserve Greystone



    Didnt even know there was so much history there. This guy actually sneaked in and took great pictures!

  2. wow, those pictures are awesome! makes it hard to believe it was a fully functioning hospital less than 5 years ago though, very sad.