by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Hudson River Psychiatric Center was a massive development built in the 19th century in Poughkeepsie, New York. The solid-brick buildings, many with iron window bars to prevent escapes, formed a city unto itslef, with capacity being over 5,000 patients who required hospitalization from illnesses we now term schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, late-stage alcohol and drug abuse, as well as forms of organic dementia. The discovery of potent anti-psychotic drugs around 1950, and the community mental-health movement of the 1960s, took treatment for many into the community. But not all were helped, or healed.
In the Poughkeepsie Journal of November 29, 2011, there is a detailed story, a poignant story, but most of all a sad and frustrating story about one man who is seeing to find a place to live now that the Center, after previous moves that emptied the buildings, is closing for good. Interviews with this man’s sister will make everyone who reads this article aware of the worry and burden to families.
Several decades ago Pulitzer Prize-winning author Susan Sheehan wrote a series of articles in The New Yorker. They became a book, Is There No Place On Earth For Me.. The search for a home, or at least a safe place of asylum, was the theme of the book; many of our citizens still face this same lonely trek today.