83. Institute of Living Museum

Man, This Museum is Crazy!
(Google Maps Location)
January 26, 2009

83a.jpgThis little museum has been on my radar since I began this blog. It’s one of the first places I knew about that never turned up on any search engines no matter what criteria you used. I was proud of the fact that I was “in the know” about a museum that no one else seemed to be. It gave me an early feeling of relevance from the get-go.

The reason this place never shows up on search engines is that, for whatever reason, they don’t call it a museum, but on refer to it as the “Myths, Minds & Medicine: Two Centuries of Mental Health Care.” I forget how I found out about it originally, but I think it had to do with my brilliant wife remembering that her former boss, Connecticut über-Historian Bruce Clouette of Public Archaeology Study Team having been involved in its creation. I think she was challenging me and my original paltry list to see if I had this place on it.

[Actually, after seeing that I'd been to this place - believe it or not Hoang doesn't keep up - she revealed that Bruce tasked her with finding a straight-jacket for the museum among other things. So that straight jacket in my picture was actually found and obtained by my now wife, about 4 years before we met. My love for her grows daily.]

I didn’t, of course… But I do now. As it turns out, there are two places on the web (other than CTMQ) that have good information about the museum. It’s hidden away on the Institute of Living’s site and believe it or not, the New York Times trumped me with a 1998 article written right after its installation. I will, of course, be borrowing from both sources.

83b.jpgFounded in 1822, The Institute of Living was one of the first mental health centers in the United States, and the first hospital of any kind in Connecticut. Located on 35 acres landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, The Institute of Living lies near the center of Hartford, Connecticut. Yes, the same Frederick Law Olmsted that designed Central Park and the oldest public park in America, Hartford’s own Bushnell Park (CTMQ Visit here).

Today, as part of Hartford Hospital, it is one of America’s leading not-for-profit centers for comprehensive patient care, research and education in the fields of behavioral, psychiatric, and addiction disorders. It’s a sprawling campus and really provides care to a lot of people who are marginalized by society and really need the care. It’s a good place.

And it’s extra good because of their museum. Tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript building (there was a class going on that I listened in on for nurses and home health aids about various restraint techniques for when their patients get out of hand. I figured I may need that some day with Damian… Sadly, that’s not a joke.)

83d.jpgAs with many people, I’ve been personally touched by various mental illnesses in my life. A very good friend of mine took his own life to end his suffering from bipolar disorder and various levels of anxiety disorder have cropped up in my family history. And, of course, my son’s Smith-Magenis Syndrome would have been lumped in to the “Evil Spirits” camp not too long ago. So, in an unexpected way, my viewing of Myths, Minds and Medicine was way more personal than I thought it would be.

Myths, Minds and Medicine is the result of several years of research conducted by historians hired through a grant The IOL received from the Connecticut Humanities Council. Documents, artifacts, items of interest, letters, and old photos were gathered from the IOL’s attics, basements, and closed-up offices to form the basis for the exhibition. The decision was made early on to tell the full story of medicine’s well-intentioned, but sometimes erroneous attempts at finding ways to alleviate suffering.

83g.jpgThat’s the gist of this place, but there is a very good historical telling of mental illness care here as well. The exhibit actually starts just inside the doorway and continues up the stairs and then down a long hallway with a timeline of events at the IOL.

I took a ton of pictures of the informational signs at the museum. I realize this makes for boring viewing – and tedious copying on my part. Oh well… let’s start in the lobby with some IOL history. “The story of the Institute is also the story of changing approaches toward mental disorders in America. Bloodletting, harsh purgatives, phrenology, hot baths, and psychosurgery all had their day, pat of the sometimes rocky course medicine has pursued in searching for answers and cures.

83h.jpg“Today we believe that a large portion of the total population experiences some form of mental disorder at some point in life. Once thought to be bizarre and beyond hope, phychiatric patients are now recognized as ordinary people in need of a particular kind of treatment.”

There are newspaper articles from the 18th century depicting the mentally ill person’s “criminal” activities. It’s rather distressing to read this stuff to be honest. Up until that time, the mentally ill were called “distracted persons” and were usually “hidden away” at family homes or churches. Once the issue of the insane was great enough to build government run centers, the so-called treatments were often barbaric. Enemas and emetics (vomit inducers) and bleeding were all the rage.

83i.jpgEurope led the way in decrying these practices, especially England. The York Retreat was opened in 1796 that espoused a “moral” way of treating the insane. Talk began in 1811 to build a similar retreat in Connecticut and the “Connecticut Retreat for the Insane at Hartford” was finally opened in 1822.

The first superintendent was Eli Todd, MD who was revolutionary in his compassion for the sick and the insane. In fact, though not mentioned at the exhibit, Dr. Todd was responsible for building the smallpox hospital out in the Farmington woods that is memorialized today at the fascinating Hospital Rock. (CTMQ Visit here.)

83m.jpgFollowing Dr. Todd’s kinder and gentler methods, the IOL as a whole was pioneering in its treatments. They tended towards the humane and tried to learn from their patients. One former patient wrote, “So-called madmen are too often man-made, and he who is potentially mad may keep a saving grip on his own reason if he be fortunate enough to receive that kindly and intelligent treatment to which one on the brink of mental chaos is entitled.” That was Clifford Beers who went on to write the very influential “A Mind that Found Itself” in 1908.

The grounds were chosen for their beauty and bucolic nature. in 1822, there were views of the Connecticut River and trees all around. By the mid-1800′s, the once rural retreat was being surrounded by a growing urban landscape, so they hired Olmsted to do his best to keep the grounds as pastoral as possible. Many unique trees were planted and today a tree walk can be taken in, including some of the state’s so-called trophy trees.

83e.jpgBy the 1930′s, a “country club” approach was adopted at the institute, giving patients the most rewarding experience possible. Once through the hallway history, there is a room at the end with several different exhibits, including admittance records and other “real life” artifacts.

The patients themselves tell part of the poignant story, as recorded voices recreate some of the letters found in the IOL’s archives. An entirely reconstructed patient bedroom from the early 1900s invites viewers to place themselves in the shoes of those who sought care at The IOL.

83n.jpgOf course, those who were cared for here were almost universally from more affluent families. Before health insurance, most laborers could not afford the cost of a room or even bed at the Retreat. Some really rich families built little cottages for their sick loved ones and everyone enjoyed – to the best of their abilities – the amenities which they were accustomed to at home. (The state built a public retreat in Middletown.)
Today, most patients are out-patients although there is still some full-time on campus housing available.

The most interesting displays here are also the most troubling. Past “treatments” are laid bare, like straight-jackets, insulin shock therapy, electric shock therapy and even lobotomies.

More modern methods (which I’m sure our future alien overlords will laugh about) are also described, from psychotherapy to the litany of drugs on the market and CAT scans to determine brain disorders.

A lobotomy

Lobotomy: Before, During, After

I was fascinated by this museum – err – the “Myths, Minds and Medicine museum-quality exhibition.” It’s always cool to learn that something in my neck of the woods was a pioneering and important piece of something as huge as modern mental illness care. It was emotional for me, imaging what life would have been like for my little Damian just 100 years ago… But regardless, if you’re in Hartford for some reason, this place is definitely worth a visit.

Hey, I didn’t use a word of the New York Times piece! It’s linked below… Enjoy.



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Cost: Free
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9-5
Food & Drink? You know what? Go to the Friendly’s Next to Hartford Hospital. Just because.
Children? I’d recommend against it. Boring and too many uncomfortable questions
You’ll like it if: You’ve been institutionalized at a lesser place
You won’t like it if: You prefer Clockwork Orange curative techniques
Freebies: None


For the Curious:

Myths, Minds and Medicine
IOL Photo Tour
Notable Trees Tour at the IOL
New York Times article
Lobotomy video (From PBS, but rather unpleasant)

37 responses to “83. Institute of Living Museum”

  1. Tina says:

    When I was in nursing school we visited this museum. It is a great museum for those in the medical field especially if you like studying the history of mental illness. Some of the items were very interesting (and creepy).

  2. andrea says:

    i was a patient at the IOL from 1979-83 (4 full years)
    i am now (and always have been) an artist.
    i went to hartford art school (university of hartford)and it was there where i finally started to use my artwork to tell my story (dark/trauma/light/and becoming strong..all of it.and all around and inside it-you know-all i saw went thru-but also-the search research history– now then all of it.
    when i saw this exhibition-what stayed with me the most was just the fact that this exhibit exists-and is being seen.
    my hope, now, is that like with the ongoing growth in various forms of research: that the exhibition will also grow. it is all part of the thing to not only assist and treat “mental illness” but to also allow for all sorts of growth.

  3. Margaret Hill says:

    I was a patient there too 1984-85. The torture and degradation of the ill this museum documents were not a thing of the past then and are still going strong today. The cruelty and oppression have gotten subtler-beating is illegal now. But “helping” “professionals” can say whatever they want to and about their charges. My stay at IOL was a living nightmare. During my last stay in a Psych Hospital- 2008- (not at IOL) part of my treatment plan was being put through a mock execution. Say that Psych Hospitals dole out treatment, because they do of a kind. But don’t ever call it care.

  4. Dorothea Sanderson says:

    As a child, I passed the retreat or walked by the retreat with my mother in the thirties and fourties, and was very frightened by the place. It was dark and dismal. Even later knowing that movie stars often came there, didn’t light it up.
    My empathy goes to those people who were “treated” there in the thirties, forties, and fifties, who came out worse after the treatment worse than they were before the treatment. Kathleen Kennedy is a good example. People were told how great the treatment was, and how calm their loved one would be after the procedure, but it wasn’t. Hearts of mothers and fathers were broken, and so was their loved one.

  5. andrea meyers says:

    oh well…anyway..the rise poem is way shortened–but i knew due to space that i was silly to add it.
    on deviant art i have a page. Check it out. I hope people will look

  6. andrea meyers says:

    please delete my lastest notes…i wrote most of all to ask if the link to my site can be visible.
    while it is bare-bones art/ search/ etc as it stands on site-i do plan to do a great deal to research and dig in to the whole of my experience from 1979-1983.
    the IOL-for me-was a mixed experience.
    the thing that it carries on-research etc-is good. it is not all easy.
    YES-i went through restraint and other stuff. but also formed good relations with some of the staff. the doctors however -well-i won’t go on.
    i plan to -and have already spent 15 years of my life writing reliving researching-the IOL-past/ when i was there/ til present. it so far has come out as very personal in my art..but much of my writing is an attempt to understand it all.
    it is good the the IOL has a TRUTH to what it is they DO. that is a powerful stand. and it is that stand that makes me hope to become somehow involved-i have ideas.
    can ex- patients have a right to come back and express ideas?
    soon to be seen.
    but the truth shown here in the museums history of the iol–but less that of the later dates..is good.
    it does not hide away.
    there is a REAL truth there in part of the IOL’s need to research as well as the need to be open -
    i personally have thoughts that are inspired by this museums showing. i hope lee monroe and others will listen to me. i am not fool-just as many in the IOL are not fools.
    mental illness-or whatever it “is”-(‘it’ being many things) can never be treated seen changed and come to a place of strength (in each who has been there seeking help and those who do not). it is so so complicated.
    yes: obvious.
    while i know the depth of trauma and more while there i also know much more. there was a truth to the place. still it remains changes and hence, due to this change, has remained afloat through huge changes in time and research.
    while yes-i saw the place -day one-as the scary place that many see it..also was a wonderous place that taught me more than any other space could teach me. the grounds-the plan /re-plan etc of space and how it plays its own role in (?) (the idea of space/ design/ how units are set up etc is a big part of my research).
    i hope to hear more people speak here. i do relate with the trauma and yes-restraint-and more. but i also know of much GOOD. that is a big question. how each of us see it. it is essential for the “patients”-there -and later in life tell how the place collectively left memory in ones mind. it seems to vary in a big way..and this alone is a big thing.
    i have hopes..which i do not speak of now-but -i see the IOL-even with all my anger and my seeing how this place “gave” me a sense of “lifeline” -is enormous. and i want and have to express it. art/ writing etc. a lifetime thing. and i hope to somehow …wel. things will be what they will be.
    —i hope whomever runs this comment area will delete all but my first post and maybe this one-(but this is too long-i just hope to speak to those in the IOL if possible-sorry if i don’t edit-i am looking now to speak from my heart/ mind-and not just the mind. i WILL NOT lose my heart or my gut feelings in it)but not keeping this post is fine :)
    but i also ask if -at the beginning or end of my FIRST post that i can add a link to a site where i search out all i can as i can and do with time about the IOL and other past hospitals; their own need to create a space to be part of …whatever it is that research is forging onward to “help” those with various “?”‘s . for the kirkbride-space / grounds etc–SO much played a role-as much as it does today. and while i was there-i was a mess-but somehow-i saw it..and remembered space and all-so intensely. i was and am very over-sensitive to things-and i guess-it has allowed me to go from being one who couldn’t speak-but could see and eventually-in the last year or so in the IOL-feel-strength and caring for others-that i ..i never..i was so lost. i felt like no-one. and why bother. ? this changed when i cared. yes-i learned in the IOL. many/ all(?) of us had some need to be (there) -so-connection with others was huge. and it remains a big part of how i think when i DO research/search;/ think/ etcetc.
    please re-add the site. it is not finished-far from it. just ideas. some artwork. some images. but -it is real. all about my feeling and “seeings” in the IOL. then now and whatever.
    thank you.

  7. andrea meyers says:

    please note:
    last response was not thought-out-as said-it was more to ask re the sitebeing posted w first response i made- and why i ask for this. but please know: i do know how to write :)
    thanks :)

  8. andrea meyers says:

    also please note: i know the IOL is not a kirkbride. i should have added others/ another style ie “cottage style” -it is my thought -further thoughts on how space is still SO relevant. in hospital or not.
    thank you to whomever allowed the link to be set here: the stuff on that site is a bunch of ideas and images-and some large finished mixed media works. a process. i plan to finsih all of it in many various ways. ie. add to more mixed media / search/ research/ and also to eventually put many things (much not on the site) into several short books-images/ words/ etc.
    anyway-thank you . hope more write here. i say no more!!!!

  9. Maria says:

    I am responding to andrea. I was also a patient of AOL. in 1979. I would like to talk to you but dont know how we could find a way to talk.

  10. Maria says:

    Andrea I googled your name and came up with a website with art. I emailed you from that website. Maria

  11. andrea meyers says:

    oh–i am trying to remember.
    i think i know you–but was it in 1979??
    you wrote on the site where my art is (DA) ?–saw nothing :(

    hey-email me at:
    [email protected]

    please write

  12. Amy says:

    My name is Amy and I am having ECT’s at the IOL. I have been inpatient, but I am presently out-patient living with my parents. I would have killed myself by now if it weren’t for ECT’s. I love the Myth’s Minds and Medicine Museum. I want to bring my Mom and Gram to see it.

  13. andrea meyers says:

    maria-never heard from you.???
    hope u will get in touch.

  14. andrea meyers says:

    to sarah weatherwax..

    if you see this note PLEASE get in touch with me.
    i need badly to talk with you about darlene.
    andrea meyers

  15. Dr. R says:

    For what it is worth – which isn’t much – the IOL was a Kirkbride Institution in its original architecture. The Kirkbride method and structure however, has been abandoned for quite some time.

  16. andrea meyers says:

    thank you Dr R for the information regarding the IOL/ Kirkbride “thing”
    yes..i see how the canter building started to follow the architectural … ‘structure’ …and then ‘abandonment’ …which i do know was abandoned “all-around” -in psychiatric hospitals…as structure..and (?) —it is a curious thing-and part of my study, actually. –meaning: the space/ the set up/ etc and h0w it benefits staff/ patients…more.-and how – (and/ or why—the abandonment-and then..how the next so-called generation of structure came about.?
    it is ..too much to write about here…so-pardon the EXTREME generalizations i use..as to …(ha ha) not use…further information-..to keep this…(post) …’short’.
    but yes..i was glad to see your comment. -i have been here a few times sinces-and did see it-but..it is …due to various reasons (mostly ..my own study -ies on this and much more..and ..what ..or how to reply…and yes..i did want to reply…)
    my art and research …and search..and …more..-even ..well-the need to research..somewhat deeply–many psychological/ and.. ‘tid-bits’ of psychiatric (medicine ..etc–which —yes–i know i am extremely limited to information on this for MANY reasons. –again..general..general..general! :)

    i also wanted to write -in short-..very short:
    it is interesting how hard it is to find information –even …general information (whatever that means!?) –about the IOL during the late 1970s-1980s.
    religion. the bishop. longterm…words. and hints into…
    are found-but …’chop-cho[p’ !!n
    sorry..silly .
    but..i find that there is a negative looking..or..more than looking..obviously…about this time…and also on the longterm issue. (issue?) oops? not an issue? —for me, it is …so ..that is why i used the word. –outside of that..yes..i admit to some questions…on..-
    oh–too hard to be “short”
    and i never liked “generalizations” …in general! :) …funny…but not.
    altho-i find in use of abstraction..-which is not ..easy to—break down..or…-?? –
    i mean abstraction.,well–being an artist-ofcourse it is ..how/ where/ and MORE -that i am able to ..search..and…MOTE…this/ these “topic/ s”–but it can only be ..—well
    research is essential
    and in working ..on ….art..works..it is not only experience/ memory/ emotional/ logical…-personal …(?) –but also-on the partial to ..almost o..total -objective (as compared to the same -as in ‘subjective) ..-but–to tie it-…words..i.e.–narrative–but –in forming this both in/side..or out? -of sub- and ob- ejective…and ..more more more.. :)
    -ties..like use of language ..not as story/ narration/ even..use of study-in text..(oh..how to keep this ” general”
    well–to summit (up) (NO) ..but-for here…
    i just say;;;
    it is using ties -ie -as mentioned–other uses of “language” –space/ sensual-as n senses…-and more…haha
    and..time/ past and..merged and ..simultaneous time..-
    well-mathematics-must be part of it..logically and not. –..a sort of coming together of many in order to form ..art..text-as in narration ..etc-needs-abstracyion..to build a sort of….ground..which IS -the composition…but even tho it IS..it also..needs. -..or a sort of ‘means’ to meet the grounding..or..–even grounds–yes–it is fun to obscure it all…
    and i mean that–n joking on that part..
    howi mean it..haha! abstract..so-hard to



    why writing–well-i did like DR R’s comment..and anon-and not. -omous. –joking and not..

    but seriously-yes–seeig the comment was awesome. -
    for me..

    but–i am frustrated..and concerned-by the ;little info-(out there for ..say..the common ‘people’ …which is minimal-and a touch more info-at best.
    –info–you know—on the times 19)70s)? -not sure. on the 70s ‘split’ or …not…but–in my so far search..i am going for the late 70s 80s and …maybe early 90s..or..not.
    it was when i was there! 79-83.
    but this is NOT why

    i just can’t seem to get to information between certain dates. of the IOL.n–it seems when the retreat..and now connected w the hartford hospital…these times seem more readily available (so it seems) …but
    i don’t know
    no idea!
    who am i?
    i look all around-but have to find my way as if partially blind—but like with using a lower end camera-rather than getting a new one due to $$…i find—it is GOOD-it makes for the need to experiment ..due to knowing what comes out of the newer cameras …and–gfinding my way to …not mimic–but..sort of–but along the way-find things..not …expected…so-i prefer this now! :)

    how these things link. –
    general/ general.
    already too long…this post.

    but-i do notice the gap..and it seems real-’common’ info or not. –who knows.
    but-insurance/ meds..nah. not all there is to it.

    oh..yes-easy–the effect of longterm / and then short.
    short over-riding
    this is where…
    i -ask-or hope
    maybe for a pointer or more than one
    to find if-and why short-term is preferred? –and not just due to insurance and meds.?
    personally–i think it is a ..
    i don’t agree
    but-cannot find a way to…
    get in-side …the thing of it–due to …little info. or .little-and …mostly-(???) or not? negative towards longterm over short. -or –not ..altogether–juat negative–many things–but..is short term preferred? and if so–why? if not why? ….just —has me wondering…but-i know..this makes little sense..right? -
    i hope someone may see what i am asking-and not on a basic level-or …
    it is inno way a simplistic situation…
    or not..”situation”—but…hpwto use weds…
    just..more to it that simple..-that. -ok?
    just …that.
    but-any …info?
    …delete if this is bordering 0n the absurd…even tho it is not—but i do not know how to 1-be general …and 2..more I’m..or ? –but2: abstraction of idea/ logic and..also..non-liear thought..logicas well..or??????
    absurd-in -how to say ask
    but-in no way –well-not: glossolalia ..or..????
    ending now—
    and yes
    i am

  17. andrea meyers says:

    oh..i..know above is a post by Amy…
    i just..
    i hope i ..
    well-i honestly don’t mean to hog space…
    must not write here…and …move on. …

  18. andrea meyers says:

    i admit-i am curious–even with major change after change after change to do with-or just with-the IOL…
    i find it almost impossible to find more than a hand or two of information…or really-ANY writings ..etc..about the IOL during the years 1970-2000. mostly years 1980-1990.

    why is this?

  19. Diane Bosworth says:

    my poor mother was admitted to the IOL in the 1940′s and it was sheer terror/hell for her. the Dr.s staff, nurses were cruel and probably sicker than the patients. she was subjected to shock treatments even though they were considered ‘experimental’ back then. the experience affected her for the remainder of her life. Terrible, terrible place even to this day and I know that because of research and others that have had treatment there recently.

  20. Corky says:

    I was a patient at IOL for a few months in 1975. I have all good memories of the place. There were other teenagers and we got to be close friends pretty quickly.
    Saturday Night Live was a new TV show and we watched it every weekend. The food was like a resort, I remember having steak on Friday or Saturday nights and I remember evening snack was great, chocolate cake and big fresh oranges and stuff. There was a bowling alley inside! I remember the grounds vaguely, it was beautiful.
    Several years ago I saw the movie “Girl Interrupted” with Winona Ryder and the facility where that was filmed was so remarkably similar to my memory of the IOL that I had to watch the closing credits to see if it was actually the same place. The movie was filmed at some facility in Canada though, but it’s really very similar. Even the tunnels you go through to get from one building to another were just the same.
    Anyway, I see all of these negative reviews so I figured I’d put mine because it really was a good experience for me in many ways….

  21. andrea meyers says:

    hmm..my stay was not all negative at all .. :)
    i made some of the closest friends ever while there. i was a teen as well-16-20.
    the food..uh..well..not great-but not bad either.

    corky-you have some awesome memories!
    in a way..at times..i miss the place. -i miss the community of it. grounds. -even the lower unit bright,-i have so many fond memories.
    i have such a deep connection with those times—the place-the people-the good and bad.
    -which is why it will always be a life-long thing for me to do art-and writing and etc …
    the writing or whatever it is i wrote here is …blah.

    i just can’t understand why it is shard to find much info -all sorts–or anything–for the 1980s…and the 70s sound similar..and 1990s

    that they cut the longterm–insurance and such will in time be a disaster.
    i do not know how no one sees this.

  22. andrea meyers says:


    to -stephen wood

    (oh–well-i am sure you know by now i do not use caps much) :)

    –just had to tell you that you do an awesome job-with the whole of ..ooh caps…CMQ
    i saw you have an hook-in now to Facebook. —their cap..not mine :D

    i like what you wrote and pulled together here-as in a mini-trip in general time-line of the IOL.
    (caps) hahaha!!!!!

    seriously…i am glad you wrote this one
    but all others -that i read so far-are great!

    i like how you insert new..maybe delete some??? –but not comments asked to be ..at least –edited??
    subtle -won’t-go-anywhere- hint ;)

    i will always pop up here-as i just ..-need to ..not just put out my experience–but FAR MORE…ooooh-BOG caps…hmm..what does that mean?how do i feel about it?

    i want to write one short ‘story’-not story-as in -pages-but..short..would add photos-but..oh well.
    hope it is ok.—it is a fun one..-oh..wait..no..skip that one. -will find another funny one=more on my website tho… anyway-will fish it out-and return and add-if not acceptable:
    haha–delete it !!! :D ho ho.-

    but-stephen wood…i always wanted to say “hey!” … ta da.

  23. andrea meyers says:

    well-the one i want to put up is nuttier–but this is fun…


    “the fountain”

    written nov 2006

    my roomate and i had our class cards.
    we signed out for -oh-some class like social or rec-
    but ..we took our time getting there.
    it was pouring that day
    and cold
    it was late fall
    the walkways and street
    filmed out by a thousand dropping lines
    allowing only some translucence
    for our eyes to focus
    closing in -scoping narrow
    pushing on
    pathing out some sort of passage

    it was great fun
    we were dressed for spring
    we were crazy
    and having a lovely time being outside
    for fifteen minutes

    15 minutes
    each to be taken
    perhaps more
    we decided to pass the door
    where we were supposed to go
    (and sign in)
    we rounded the building
    and found ourselves on the other side
    on the wide grounds

    still hard to focus
    we just ran and were silly
    sloshing on grass

    the fountain
    yes the fountain
    where is it?
    over there
    oh yeah!!!
    let’s go!
    we run a straight line
    and eye out the bush bits
    circling the round fountain

    and over we go
    over the low bushes
    not too high
    only about a foot tall
    a foot wide
    easy to hop
    without seeing clearly

    the fountain was off
    it was never on
    who knows why
    due to the huge storm
    the pouring rain
    the fountain, that day, had its water!

    ooooh water
    more water
    we were soaked already
    why not?

    stepping in
    walking around and around
    around the circle
    the fountains circle ground
    we practically ran
    no direction needed
    no eyes needed
    circle circle
    round and round
    splashing fun

    well..we decided then
    to skip the class
    return to our unit
    soaked and muddy

    signing in

    not even late
    15 minutes ago
    we signed out
    on this very same paper

    wow though
    it was a true adventure
    but timeless
    and tons of fun!

  24. andrea meyers says:

    written nov 2006

    my roomate and i had our class cards.
    we signed out for -oh-some class like social or rec-
    but ..we took our time getting there.
    it was pouring that day
    and cold
    it was late fall
    the walkways and street
    filmed out by a thousand dropping lines
    allowing only some translucence
    for our eyes to focus
    closing in -scoping narrow
    pushing on
    pathing out some sort of passage

    it was great fun
    we were dressed for spring
    we were crazy
    and having a lovely time being outside
    for fifteen minutes

    15 minutes
    each to be taken
    perhaps more
    we decided to pass the door
    where we were supposed to go
    (and sign in)
    we rounded the building
    and found ourselves on the other side
    on the wide grounds

    still hard to focus
    we just ran and were silly
    sloshing on grass

    the fountain
    yes the fountain
    where is it?
    over there
    oh yeah!!!
    let’s go!
    we run a straight line
    and eye out the bush bits
    circling the round fountain

    and over we go
    over the low bushes
    not too high
    only about a foot tall
    a foot wide
    easy to hop
    without seeing clearly

    the fountain was off
    it was never on
    who knows why
    due to the huge storm
    the pouring rain
    the fountain, that day, had its water!

    ooooh water
    more water
    we were soaked already
    why not?

    stepping in
    walking around and around
    around the circle
    the fountains circle ground
    we practically ran
    no direction needed
    no eyes needed
    circle circle
    round and round
    splashing fun

    well..we decided then
    to skip the class
    return to our unit
    soaked and muddy

    signing in

    not even late
    15 minutes ago
    we signed out
    on this very same paper

    wow though
    it was a true adventure
    but timeless
    and tons of fun!

  25. andrea meyers says:

    above–the short story-thing–i will be writing several-non-linear books–actually-much done-just need more-and also-weave in research and more–as it is not just the -experiences..

    but this was one. i called it “the fountain” see above :)

  26. andrea meyers says:

    oh–i didn’t need to repeat. i guess the whole of the ..telling what it is-the story-on story page–(baby story..that is) ..a mix with many-RAW with clarity will the some books–but..not all. -must be –like BEING THERE..
    and then research-past ..and-ooooh…thoughts and stories of future via research-or..hmm?

    pardon the last repeat post—didn’t look-but info was already there :)

    glad. -it is a harmless story thing.///

  27. andrea meyers says:

    the story thing went through 2x???
    oh dear.
    and deleting is not heard of??
    this is a waste of space..and please..i want to keep in good form here-
    please don’t block me from commenting
    i have a lot of things to tell-but in a good nature.
    nothing to ‘hurt’ the IOL…no way. –it was what made me …come ‘into my real life’
    love the place.

    please-stephen wood-or any at the oil–i knew so many people there-incuding staff..
    i cared about many
    so many
    they even asked me to help a few times…
    i care a lot a LOT
    it is not about ..a psych hospital–and ..things of : shock or terror of scare-or..even to bring up stuff i know i need to talk with others about before ever ..writing–(not just here–or here at all-or?? -but-in general.
    i have no clue about the red tape stuff
    i just have stories
    research on how things change/d-and how space time and much else can psychologically ..impact on a “patients’ —’personality’ -yes..more than just mood or the like.
    just know
    the IOL is -it means so much to me. …even the hard stuff…it was not “BAD” to was..hard.
    some things to pick pick pick at..
    but-not ..in a way of..
    oh oh–watch her.
    i know some people are still there who knew me
    and even remember me
    ok..i got in trouble–pranks..so on.
    but-not in mean ways-just-to keep alive..and flourish
    …i do at least hope..that is what it ..then..was—partly about–to HELP. CARE. ..keep safe. etc etc.

    due to laws..and the oil too-yes..some stuff i got pissed at–but–my GOD..it is not to hurt. and..actually-it won’t hurt.. is it not about …learning-without disrupting the whole and bashing.?

  28. andrea meyers says:

    maybe 10-15 years ago there was a tour given at the IOL–a guide giving a walking tour and telling the history of the place and giving a tour of the grounds, the trees, the (for now) closed interiors of the IOL a

    -will this ever be happening in the near future.

    i think there have been several tours all in all.

    any info

    please reply?

    andrea meyers

  29. andrea meyers says:

    Stephen Wood

    have you let us with just this minimal story?

    it is great you opened a door…but-since then..it just falls to nothing–while the place is changing vastly.

    i just wonder why you give no real information..and turn it in to a basic ‘read’

    you never seem to care about otters words here. -no! not just mine.

    just ask you–what on earth is it that you are doing?

    i looked further at other places you have stopped at for a brief -quick-rundown of ..what you’think’ the places are…about..at all!?

    do you put up : please to know of in ..ct?

    and that is it.
    if so: good.

    but, really, the museum was already there..yes..good you might have drawn a few others to even KNOW about the museum..
    the museum-which in my mind is ..frankly..poorly done.

    the more i research-the more i see how little is known-inside and out.
    what has been learned?
    the neurological center gives SO few looks into what it REALLY is ‘about’..

    this and the ultimate BASICS give in tidbits-telling little more then NOTHING > history and more.

    if this place truly has grown in seemingly reaching the so called thing of “mental issues” to severe mental illness” -then..it continues to maintain STIGMA. even if just a little better.

    many ‘types’ of the mess and all of …what IS mental illness…where do people go..for–slotted types of needs-and described illnesses?

    the IOL-it has shut down longer term-which ..in near -future-will be an ULTIMATE disaster–and money will be little to come by-and lost..where now things can be separated-
    to talked out with ideas that are not narrow and LINEAR!
    i saw so much-and i both loved and hated the please.

    does the ‘IOL” even CARE about former patients.
    oh. privacy.

    ok–open up a forum-given out to those who have BEEN there..so they can talk-and ..
    perhaps..IF “staff” even still exists–in a “good” way..not old and less ‘respectful old ways….not saying the 1980s had dr/ staff RESPECT towards any patient there. no. -but they did listen. some cared from a distance. -but you can tell who REALLY cares.

    many were there-years-many adolescents and older-but with such a wide mix of ‘ills’ that it needed some shifts…

    but when visiting a ‘friend’ in ..around 2000—the place was WORSE. for those who needed ..even -minimal attention–many teens hardly are even UNDERSTOOD HERE!!!!!!

    so-the new what is it new replacement of ECT…as well as ECT-and..more!

    so much put in to this neuro-etc etc
    but-not working it with psychological means






    DON’T YOU ..GET IT???

    also..be prepared to lose your grounds.
    simply put: they once were very VERY VERY VERY beneficial …-(helpful) for…so many.
    i was a teen-and i learned to find strength there due to reasons i blocked in myself for years–because i was scared both of reaction–and hurting (emotionally) anyone. ..that…well-why were so many here?
    not all needed such precise machinery –yes-u do know more-andit is not ‘machinery’—i need sarcasm..and i use it.
    but it is also–part of the whole–the need to dismantle the one way road–
    see it now..or you will lose it all
    people need some longer stays-and to change SO radically–
    insurance/ meds/ etc…


    only for a …maybe 1/4 of who need to come in..

    what about those who need psychological help?

    who cares?

    therapy and psychiatrists are outside of the IOL doing all that ‘biz’


    insurance..maybe will have a slight lift-for now

    but not for long

    and then grounds will be gone..like the pool

    units will mostly be offices…for WHAT!?

    no–no info needed –sarcasm again.
    but–on use of what used to be units for those who needed them-and those who need the –new structures and machines!!!

    but for all the rest–who NEED BADLY THE OLD–1980S -SORT OF HELP-IS GONE

    but more
    not your business –o..really? tell me then–what is it you ..



    but what is it you
    CARE ABOUT (??!!!)

    more changes ‘on the outside’ try..but-so much is so …terrible these days-it will take a LONG LONG time to even bring back to a ‘livable’ ..life..

    kids shooting at schools
    various drugs..all over
    drugs of all sorts as these kids grow–or if not drugs..all else.

    look-i saw a place that had helped many
    i question if even the place will survive.

  30. andrea meyers says:

    i do and don’t apologize for “hogging space”

    ….i just…CARE!!






    or maybe that is no longer your cause

    rather-it is now going towards–(almost there) 100% RESEARCH.

    but grounds and as many buildings ..are simply not needed for this work..

    change affects the full ‘so called’ body

    if ‘all research’

    make it OBVIOUS–and tell it straight –AS …”ONLY* ” RESEARCH”.




  31. andrea meyers says:

    good bye

  32. Steve says:

    Miss Meyers,

    I’ve allowed years of your comments here. I’ve deleted half of them per your various requests.

    But please know this: I have nothing in the world to do with the IOL. I have no history with it. I merely go to museums around the state and write about them. That’s it.

    If I go to a museum at UConn, I’m not obligated to write about and discuss everything about everything else at UConn. Same goes for the IOL.


  33. andrea meyers says:

    i send a very sincere apology to you.

    while the IOL was and is a part of what i speak out on–mostly in my art…
    it is in no way all i care about.

    i care so much about..being there..for …
    (not the point)
    just -please know i have a lot in me that goes far beyond myself-
    but i got too overwhelmed emotionally due to letting my feeling helpless
    keep me from TRULY helping and ..caring..and much much more

    the IOL-is where i learned much about..life.
    but..there is so much more -beyond
    in feeling helpless-i became -selfish.

    your words have in one of many ways lately
    caused me to SEE -and-finally..

    i say no more

    i just need you to know that i do read other things you write-
    and you make many places you write about come to life
    i went to places since reading

    i in no way meant my words to/ about you

    please know i apologize looking for no reply

    i am just truly sorry

    andrea meyers

  34. Joan Shannon says:

    I am trying to find out if my grandfather was here from 1930 to 1936 when he died. He had epilepsy and probably suffered brain damage from seizures. He was sent to an institution but I’m not sure which one. The state says they don’t have a record of him. Is there a way to search the records here?

  35. Cathy Carder says:

    I was here 1968-69 (fifteen months). It was not a place of healing, but rather trauma. On the upper levels, the place seems only a little scary, but if you land in the bottom, beyond the tunnels and so many locked doors, then you enter into a world that can only injure the mind. Every part of me suffered, my body and my psyche. I think this lack of effective care–and in many ways true neglect–in one of the top-of-the-top psychiatric institutions in the country shows how far we are from where we need to in knowing how to care for the psyche. In all these years since, we have failed to progress. We just throw pills at the problem, hoping, if we treat symptoms, all will be well. When that fails, we attempt to hide the victims of our failure in prisons, out of sight, out of mind. God have mercy on us for how we treat the ill.

  36. Sandy g. says:

    I was a patient at the Hartford institute of living.. And I Neva really knew what that place was until I was sent there to be avalurated by abulance.. I Neva had a mental illness before or ever been put on meds before.. I am practically healthy.. A week that I stayed in this place it was a secret horrible place.. These people put you on meds to make u feel confused.. By putting you on meds they can read your mind threw the computer.. They know who is mentally ill and who is not..when you are sent to your rooms at 10:00 pm you hear screaming if people who are being tortured.. There’s no telling if some of the people there survive because that’s how horrible it is.. When you speak to the docter there they do not help the situation they only tell lies against your will.. Saying you are insane.. This place is hell in the hospital believe it or not not all the time they tell people you are in there for secretive reasons.. If you ever go to this place .. Do not let the people torture you or make it look like you are the one who is ill.. You find away to tell someone when you use the phone to come and get you out of this place before its to late.. You might Neva be heard of.. May God bless you all and may you find away to escape this horrible place …

  37. wellness says:

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