Bloomingdale Asylum Exposé - Julius Chambers - The New York Tribune
Tuesday, September 3, 1872
"The investigation of THE TRIBUNE has developed all that it set out to accomplish. It has been shown that physicians can be had at random to swear a man's vita away with less hesitation than they will attempt the lease difficult of surgical operations; and that briefer examination is needful to satisfy the average family doctor that a man's brain is disordered than that his leg is broken. . . . "
Curtain-Raiser: "A Genuine Investigation of Bloomingdale Asylum" - [Julius Chambers] - New York Tribune
"On August 14, Julius Chambers, a reporter of THE TRIBUNE, was consigned to Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum by regular process of law, and was placed by the Assistant Physician in charge in the wards for excited patients, being thought a dangerous maniac. At the end of the week he appeared (by instruction of this office) to be so much improved that he was removed to the ward for quiet patients, and encouragement was held out by the same physician that in six or seven weeks he might be discharged. On Saturday last, after a write of habeus corpus for his release had been served, Dr. David T. Brown, Superintendent of the institution, talked with him for an hour or two, and, being familiar with the disease which he simulated, at once saw the reporter was sane. On Monday, at the earnest solicitation of the physician and the legal adviser of the Asylum, consent was given that he be released without further public legal proceedings. Yesterday, however, Mr John D. Townsend, in whose name the application for release was made, explained in the Supreme Court his connection with the case and the fact that the person committed was a reporter for this paper."The reporter's story of his incarceration in the Asylum will be told in detail in tomorrow's TRIBUNE, accompanied by his sworn affidavid of the truth of all he states. "In making this investigation of this institution, THE TRIBUNE was prompted by no motive of idle curiosity, no purpose to misrepresent, no object other than xxxxxx correct way, and in a manner which would satisfy and convince the public. Its examination was made on a fixed and carefully elaborated plan to test the legal issues involved, and the truth of the charges previously put forth by former employes of the Asylum. To have bribed two physicians to certify falsely his madness would have been to prove only tht there were rogues in the profession; hence it was decided to feign insanity and test the scientific knowledge of the committing physicians. . . . It was charged that strangers to patients sometimes committed them. It was therefore decided that absolute strangers should be employed. It was said that police justices committed men without examination. The Justice who sent our reporter to Bloomingdale never saw him at all, and does not know the names of the persons or physicians who made the application . . . The detailed story of those adventures to be told by the reporter will be a plain, unvarnished tale, without reservation of names or facts, and we are sorry to say that it will be adverse to the institution, and reflect painfully on the law of commitment and its administration in this city."
THE LUNACY LAW TESTED: HOW TO IMPRISON A SANE MAN AND WHAT IT COSTS MEDICAL SCIENCE AT FAULT--AN EXAMINATION CONFINED TO THE COUNTING OF THE PULSE-- AN EXPERT DECIDES A LUNACY CASE IN LESS THAN ONE MINUTE--A POLICE JUSTICE COMMITS WITHOUT THE EXAMINATION REQUIRED BY LAW, THOUGH CERTIFYING THE EXAMINATION WAS MADE--THE STRICTEST REGULATIONS OF THE ASYLUM EVADED BY ITS PHYSICIAN MEMORANDA THE REPORTER'S STORY THE BRANDY TEST OF INSANITY A FAILURE A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BLOOMINGDALE SUGGESTED THE PHYSICIANS ALLOWED TO DRAW THEIR OWN INFERENCES THE NIGHT WITH THE NORSE OPENING THE BALL THE MOMENT OF CONQUEST ANOTHER ATTACK ON THE NURSE ANOTHER RELAPSE AND EXAMINATION WATCHED BY THE MEDICAL STUDENT RETURN OF THE PHYSICIAN RESULTS OF THE CONSULTATION SWEARING AWAY A MAN'S WITS THE ASYLUM REGULATIONS IN THEORY THE ASYLUM REGULATIONS IN PRACTICE A PERMIT OBTAINED WHAT IT COSTS TO IMPRISON A SANE MAN
"The report which follows details the experiences of a Tribune reporter in obtaining admission into Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. The test of the law of commitment and the management of the Asylum are so distinct that it was found advisable as well as necessary, in order to give time for the preparation of the articles, to make separate narratives of the adventure in getting into custody and the experiences and observations while incarcerated in the Asylum. . . . The commitment of this reporter to the Asylumb grew out of an invitation by Dr. David T. Brown, Superintendent of the management, who in conversation with the one of writers for The Tribune stated the willingness of the management to submit to a thorough investigation of the whole Asylum . . .
AMONG THE MANIACS: FOUR DAYS IN THE EXCITED WARDS OF BLOOMINGDALE A NIGHT OF HORROR AMONG RAVING PATIENTS --SLEEP DISTURBED BY AGONIZED CRIES OF THE DANGEROUS IDIOTS--CLOSE CELLS, UNCOMFORTABLE BEDS AND CHAIRS, SCANTY AND FOUL FOOD, FILTHY BATHS, AND RUDE AND VULGAR ATTENDANTS--NO AMUSEMENTS, GAMES, OR READING MATTER--IMBECILE BOYS EXPOSED NAKED TO THE SUN, AND VENERABLE BLIND MEN BEATEN BY ENRAGED KEEPERS--INSTANCES OF BRUTAL TREATMENT WITNESSED BY THE TRIBUNE REPORTER BLOOMINGDALE ASYLUM THE REPORTER GETS A REST THE EXCITED WARDS ANOTHER SEARCH SUBMITTED TO A NIGHT OF HORROR THE APPOINTMENTS OF A MANIAC WARD A MANIAC'S MORNING MEAL A LAT IN THE WARD HOW THE PATIENTS DINE "SPEAR TO THE DOCTOR" INCIDENTS OF LIFE IN THE LODGE A CASE OF BRUTALITY ATTENDANTS' HABITS AND LANGUAGE PRIVILEGES WHICH ARE DENIED THE McCABE LUNACY CASE MADHOUSES AND THEIR METHODS
"The narrative of THE TRIBUNE reporter who was confined in Bloomingdale Insane Asylum is continued in o ther columns of this issue of THE TRIBUNE. All candid readers will admit that the story is told dispassionately. In fact, so impressed has the writer been with his instructions to set down nothing he cannot establish as oath, and to divest himself of any feeling of prejudice or animosity toward the physicians or keepers, that he appears to err on the other side and to have lost something of the natural feeling of sympathy for the helpless creatures his mission was devised to aid by giving voice to those whom nature and man combine to silence as though entombed. In spite of a tameness which this conscientious precaution has given the narrative, it is nevertheless not wanting in the elements which make it absorbing reading, and the combined narratives form a powerful argument in favor of that reformation in the legal and medical treatment of insanity which must grow out of the agitation thus begun in this State...."
PUBLIC SENTIMENT AROUSED AND REFORM DEMANDED DEFECTIVE LUNACY LAWS IN MASSACHUSETTS FURTHER TESTIMONY OF VALUE HOW A $3,000 A YEAR PATIENT WAS TREATED PROPOSED LUNACY LEGISLATION NEWSPAPER COMMENTS A CLEAR CALM. TRUTHFUL STORY PAINFUL DISCLOSURES DEMANDING REFORM WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED A DISGRACE TO CIVILIZATION WHAT IS PROVED BY THE TRIBUNE INVESTIGATION A GREAT SERVICE DONE TO THE PUBLIC AN EFFECTIVE METHOD OF DEVELOPING THE TRUTH TRUE AMERICAN JOURNALISTIC ENTERPRISE THE VENERABLE DEFENDER OF THE ASYLUM AGAIN A REPLY TO THE POST NEED OF THE JURY SYSTEM DEMONSTRATED NEWSPAPER DISCOVERERS AND DETECTIVES THE EVIL OF PRIVATE ASYLUMS THE OBVIOUS REMEDY PROOF POSITIVE PAY THE PENALTY OF MISMANAGEMENT PLUCKING TRUTH FROM THE WEL
A WEEK'S EXPERIENCE IN THE QUIET WARDS A "SECOND-CLASS BOARDING-HOUSE" FOR COMPULSORY BOARDERS--FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE TREATMENT--A CLEAR PROFIT ON THE WEEKLY INCOME OF $947 A WEEK--ANXIETY OF THE PHYSICIANS TO GET RID OF PATIENTS FOR WHOM WRITS OF HABEAS HAVE BEEN SECURED TRANSFERRED TO QUIET WARDS AMUSEMENTS, COMFORTS, AND PRIVILEGES THE LIBRARY HALL VII THE CHANGE OF A WEEK DR. BURRILL'S OPINION OF THE ... A HARMLESS LETTER STOPPED CORRESPONDENCE NOT ENCOURAGED THE FIRST SIGHT OF A FRIEND THE KIND OF LETTERS INTERCEPTED THE LAST DAYS IN BLOOMINGDALE SPRINGING THE TRAP INTERVIEW WITH DR. DROWN THE PATIENT UNWILLING THE VIRTUE OF A WAIT DR. BROWN STILL ANXIOUS A DECIDEDLY UNPROFESSIONAL VISIT RELIGIOUS SERVICES THE DOCTOR'S ROUND THE CONFINEMENT OF A PRISON THREATS OF "THE LODGE." PRIVATE MESSAGES CANNOT BE GOT OUT A MOST ANNOYING DELAY THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS AND WHAT THEY PAY THE REPORTER'S AFFIDAVIT