Author Archive

Demonic Possession

by on Sep.04, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

I love ghost stories and believe in the paranormal.  I believe in ghosts and demons.  I also have graduate degrees in clinical and counseling psychology and have been practicing as a licensed therapist in inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings for more than fifteen years.  As a writer and collector of ghost stories, I have noticed a distinct increase in articles and stories about demonic possession.  I have good friends who have tried to classify demonic possessions.  They tell histories of demonic possession and try to support those that are seeking an exorcism.  On this blog, I have even written about the story behind the infamous exorcist possession.  If any psychological or psychiatric professional in the world was going to argue and support the fact that demonic possession was a real spiritual state, it would be me. But in truth, I believe that there is nothing more dangerous and deadly to mental health care in the world than anyone supporting the delusion that demonic possession is a real thing.   I know many of you may be mad at me for saying this, but please read on before you form any conclusions. 
I have been practicing for over fifteen years.  In that time, a good 90% of my psychotic patients have had delusions revolving around demonic or spiritual attack of some kind.  I live in a very religious area and the culture of Alabama supports these delusions. According to Pfeifer (Psychopathology, 1999),  56% of psychotic patients suffer from delusions with “demonic attributions.”  Pfeifer found that belief systems play a strong role in how patients perceive and respond to their psychotic delusions.  This means that if a patient hears the devil and feels the devil but strongly believes in mental health they will seek psychiatric care and recover.  However, if a patient believes in the devil and seeks a preacher or witch doctor, they will never get psychiatric care and their condition will deteriorate.    McCormik et al.’s researcher (Behavioral Neurology, 1992) supports this.  It shows that culture and the belief system of the patient strongly predicts how a psychotic patient with delusions of “demonic attributions” will recover.  The more primitive and steeped in the belief that possession is real the patient’s cultural and belief system are the less likely they are to recover. 
Recently, a patient I had been seeing for months shot herself in the head (This case study has been made false enough to protect the patient’s HIPPA rights but the guts of the story are real).  For months, I had been trying to convince her to take her medication.  She had been going to her preacher for fifteen years and he had convinced her she was possessed by the devil and that all her bad behaviors were the devil acting through her.  Since she was psychotic and really didn’t want to take responsibility for beating her children and having them taken from her by CPS, she really wanted to believe her preacher.  My answer was less appealing.  It put personal responsibility on her.  She beat her children.  She could have stopped if she ever took her medicine.  The preacher told her the devil had convinced her that her children wanted to kill her.  She heard voices telling her that her children wanted to kill her.  So she went through sixty-five independent exorcism rituals over the course of her life.  Her family encouraged this.  They didn’t believe in mental health care but they sure as hell believed in the devil.   When she could no longer take the devil in her head, she killed herself.  In session, she talked about all the websites she read that encouraged her to believe in possession. She talked about Emily Rose and the Exorcist.  These things were real to her. She had been forced to take her medications twice in her life. Once when she was in jail and once when she wanted to get her children back.  During these periods, she had improved, but families and preachers had always convinced her to stop her meds.   When she stopped taking her medication, the devil returned.
I have seen innumerable cases like this.  I have won some battles and got patients to take their medications and been blessed enough to see how quickly medication can cure a demonic possession.  I have lost some battles and had patients either refuse to take their medications or not take them long enough to see real change.   I have never seen anything that would make me believe that any patient claiming to be possessed was actually influenced by a supernatural force. I have seen ghosts and shadow people.  I don’t pretend they don’t exist, but I know possession doesn’t exist.
 My first run in with mental illness came when I was a very young girl.  A family member of mine suffered from psychosis and believed the devil was trying to torment him.  He sought help from a priest who called to have him admitted and he was forcibly admitted into the state hospital.  Even most priests know that psychosis usually manifests in delusions of persecution and that persecution often has demonic overtones.   
I have been working with mental illness for a long time now and I know what it feels like to lose a patient and there is nothing more heartbreaking to me than when it isn’t the patient’s fault, but the fault of those around them, pushing them away from help that is so easily obtained.  It wasn’t long ago that there was no help for psychosis.  We had to give psychotic patients lobotomies, lock them up, or send them to priests and preachers.  That was all there was.  These things failed.  Historically, they all always failed.  The stories of the people who suffered through these treatments make the backbones of many of the most infamous ghost stories.  But now we can really treat these ailments.  These people can have somewhat normal lives.  Why push them back into the darkness?
There are several true possession stories I often hear told again and again as evidence that possession is real.  One is the famous story of Emily Rose.  This story dates back to 1974.  Modern medicine has grown by leaps and bounds since this story.  In neuropsychiatry and psychiatry, 1974 might as well be 1600.  Yes, medicine couldn’t help her then, but I would be willing to bet it could help her now.  The first very limited antipsychotics weren’t even invented until the 1960s.  Clozapine wasn’t invented until the 1960s and wasn’t introduced to the public until the 1970s.  So to site possession cases in the 1970s before the medications to treat psychosis were even available is to like saying you can’t cure the plague and it was sent by the devil based on data from 1100.  I am sure Emily Rose felt like the devil was tormenting her.  There is nothing more tragic than talking to someone who is actively psychotic. Working with patients that are actively psychotic does feel like talking to someone influenced by the devil. They are really going through the trials of the devil.  But these torments are now treatable with medicine.  The truth is stories like Emily’s are even more tragic because she was a very sick girl who could have been saved if she had lived now. 

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Demonic Possession

by on Sep.04, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

I love ghost stories and believe in the paranormal.  I believe in ghosts and demons.  I also have graduate degrees in clinical and counseling psychology and have been practicing as a licensed therapist in inpatient and outpatient psychiatric settings for more than fifteen years.  As a writer and collector of ghost stories, I have noticed a distinct increase in articles and stories about demonic possession.  I have good friends who have tried to classify demonic possessions.  They tell histories of demonic possession and try to support those that are seeking an exorcism.  On this blog, I have even written about the story behind the infamous exorcist possession.  If any psychological or psychiatric professional in the world was going to argue and support the fact that demonic possession was a real spiritual state, it would be me. But in truth, I believe that there is nothing more dangerous and deadly to mental health care in the world than anyone supporting the delusion that demonic possession is a real thing.   I know many of you may be mad at me for saying this, but please read on before you form any conclusions. 
I have been practicing for over fifteen years.  In that time, a good 90% of my psychotic patients have had delusions revolving around demonic or spiritual attack of some kind.  I live in a very religious area and the culture of Alabama supports these delusions. According to Pfeifer (Psychopathology, 1999),  56% of psychotic patients suffer from delusions with “demonic attributions.”  Pfeifer found that belief systems play a strong role in how patients perceive and respond to their psychotic delusions.  This means that if a patient hears the devil and feels the devil but strongly believes in mental health they will seek psychiatric care and recover.  However, if a patient believes in the devil and seeks a preacher or witch doctor, they will never get psychiatric care and their condition will deteriorate.    McCormik et al.’s researcher (Behavioral Neurology, 1992) supports this.  It shows that culture and the belief system of the patient strongly predicts how a psychotic patient with delusions of “demonic attributions” will recover.  The more primitive and steeped in the belief that possession is real the patient’s cultural and belief system are the less likely they are to recover. 
Recently, a patient I had been seeing for months shot herself in the head (This case study has been made false enough to protect the patient’s HIPPA rights but the guts of the story are real).  For months, I had been trying to convince her to take her medication.  She had been going to her preacher for fifteen years and he had convinced her she was possessed by the devil and that all her bad behaviors were the devil acting through her.  Since she was psychotic and really didn’t want to take responsibility for beating her children and having them taken from her by CPS, she really wanted to believe her preacher.  My answer was less appealing.  It put personal responsibility on her.  She beat her children.  She could have stopped if she ever took her medicine.  The preacher told her the devil had convinced her that her children wanted to kill her.  She heard voices telling her that her children wanted to kill her.  So she went through sixty-five independent exorcism rituals over the course of her life.  Her family encouraged this.  They didn’t believe in mental health care but they sure as hell believed in the devil.   When she could no longer take the devil in her head, she killed herself.  In session, she talked about all the websites she read that encouraged her to believe in possession. She talked about Emily Rose and the Exorcist.  These things were real to her. She had been forced to take her medications twice in her life. Once when she was in jail and once when she wanted to get her children back.  During these periods, she had improved, but families and preachers had always convinced her to stop her meds.   When she stopped taking her medication, the devil returned.
I have seen innumerable cases like this.  I have won some battles and got patients to take their medications and been blessed enough to see how quickly medication can cure a demonic possession.  I have lost some battles and had patients either refuse to take their medications or not take them long enough to see real change.   I have never seen anything that would make me believe that any patient claiming to be possessed was actually influenced by a supernatural force. I have seen ghosts and shadow people.  I don’t pretend they don’t exist, but I know possession doesn’t exist.
 My first run in with mental illness came when I was a very young girl.  A family member of mine suffered from psychosis and believed the devil was trying to torment him.  He sought help from a priest who called to have him admitted and he was forcibly admitted into the state hospital.  Even most priests know that psychosis usually manifests in delusions of persecution and that persecution often has demonic overtones.   
I have been working with mental illness for a long time now and I know what it feels like to lose a patient and there is nothing more heartbreaking to me than when it isn’t the patient’s fault, but the fault of those around them, pushing them away from help that is so easily obtained.  It wasn’t long ago that there was no help for psychosis.  We had to give psychotic patients lobotomies, lock them up, or send them to priests and preachers.  That was all there was.  These things failed.  Historically, they all always failed.  The stories of the people who suffered through these treatments make the backbones of many of the most infamous ghost stories.  But now we can really treat these ailments.  These people can have somewhat normal lives.  Why push them back into the darkness?
There are several true possession stories I often hear told again and again as evidence that possession is real.  One is the famous story of Emily Rose.  This story dates back to 1974.  Modern medicine has grown by leaps and bounds since this story.  In neuropsychiatry and psychiatry, 1974 might as well be 1600.  Yes, medicine couldn’t help her then, but I would be willing to bet it could help her now.  The first very limited antipsychotics weren’t even invented until the 1960s.  Clozapine wasn’t invented until the 1960s and wasn’t introduced to the public until the 1970s.  So to site possession cases in the 1970s before the medications to treat psychosis were even available is to like saying you can’t cure the plague and it was sent by the devil based on data from 1100.  I am sure Emily Rose felt like the devil was tormenting her.  There is nothing more tragic than talking to someone who is actively psychotic. Working with patients that are actively psychotic does feel like talking to someone influenced by the devil. They are really going through the trials of the devil.  But these torments are now treatable with medicine.  The truth is stories like Emily’s are even more tragic because she was a very sick girl who could have been saved if she had lived now. 

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Dragsholm Castle

by on Aug.14, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

I love history.   The reason I first fell in love with ghost stories is because of the many layers of history that lurk behind each story.   In Europe,  the layers of history go deeper because the history is so much longer.   Dragsholm Castle is one of the most haunted places in Europe and it is filled with history and ghosts.  Dragsholm Castle was was constructed during the 12th century by Bishop of Roskilde. When the castle was finally completed it became home to royalty and nobles alike.  Dragsholm is one of the oldest secular buildings in Denmark and its history is long and dark.

In the 16th century,  the castle became the residence of the royal family.  During the period from 1536 to 1664, Dragsholm Castle was also used as a prison for noble prisoners. In the large tower at the northeast corner of the castle, prison cells were made.  Some of the most well-known prisoners at Dragsholm Castle include the last catholic Bishop in Roskilde, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the mad squire, Ejler Brockenhuus.   The Earl of Bothwell was subjected to particularly horrible treatment in the tower and was tied to a pillar and left to rot.  He was given just what was necessary to keep him alive and he was said to have gone mad.

The Earl of Bothwell is one of the most famous ghosts of Dragsholm.   The Earl has been seen riding into the courtyard of the castle with his horse and carriage.   Many visitors claim to have heard the horses hoof beats upon the cobbled yard.

The castle is also said to be haunted by two other ghosts. There is a white lady who is said to be a daughter of one of the bovles who owned the castle.   She fell in love with a commoner and when her father found out he was so angry that he imprisoned her in the dreaded tower. She was more than imprisoned, legend says that he walled her up in her prison cell and left her to die.   It is said that every night she returns to the castle and walks around the corridors.  There have been numerous sightings of her.  There is also factual evidence to support this story.  In the 1930’s, when the old walls of the castle were torn down, workers found a hole in the wall and a skeleton with a white dress in it.

The last ghost to haunt Dragsholm Castle is a gray lady.  She is the rarest of the three ghost and is seldom seen or heard. She is believed to be the ghost of a young serving girl who died of a tooth ache.   She lingers in the shadows, hiding from sight, looking for a light in the darkness.

If you would like to visit Dragsholm Castle,  you are very much in luck.  During 1937, the castle came into the ownership of the Bottger family who have since converted it into a hotel.   Their website explains their many services and tells about the castle, its history, and the wonderful food that can be eaten where others once died.  You can plan your visit by going to  http://www.dragsholm-slot.dk/en  .

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Dragsholm Castle

by on Aug.14, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

I love history.   The reason I first fell in love with ghost stories is because of the many layers of history that lurk behind each story.   In Europe,  the layers of history go deeper because the history is so much longer.   Dragsholm Castle is one of the most haunted places in Europe and it is filled with history and ghosts.  Dragsholm Castle was was constructed during the 12th century by Bishop of Roskilde. When the castle was finally completed it became home to royalty and nobles alike.  Dragsholm is one of the oldest secular buildings in Denmark and its history is long and dark.

In the 16th century,  the castle became the residence of the royal family.  During the period from 1536 to 1664, Dragsholm Castle was also used as a prison for noble prisoners. In the large tower at the northeast corner of the castle, prison cells were made.  Some of the most well-known prisoners at Dragsholm Castle include the last catholic Bishop in Roskilde, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the mad squire, Ejler Brockenhuus.   The Earl of Bothwell was subjected to particularly horrible treatment in the tower and was tied to a pillar and left to rot.  He was given just what was necessary to keep him alive and he was said to have gone mad.

The Earl of Bothwell is one of the most famous ghosts of Dragsholm.   The Earl has been seen riding into the courtyard of the castle with his horse and carriage.   Many visitors claim to have heard the horses hoof beats upon the cobbled yard.

The castle is also said to be haunted by two other ghosts. There is a white lady who is said to be a daughter of one of the bovles who owned the castle.   She fell in love with a commoner and when her father found out he was so angry that he imprisoned her in the dreaded tower. She was more than imprisoned, legend says that he walled her up in her prison cell and left her to die.   It is said that every night she returns to the castle and walks around the corridors.  There have been numerous sightings of her.  There is also factual evidence to support this story.  In the 1930’s, when the old walls of the castle were torn down, workers found a hole in the wall and a skeleton with a white dress in it.

The last ghost to haunt Dragsholm Castle is a gray lady.  She is the rarest of the three ghost and is seldom seen or heard. She is believed to be the ghost of a young serving girl who died of a tooth ache.   She lingers in the shadows, hiding from sight, looking for a light in the darkness.

If you would like to visit Dragsholm Castle,  you are very much in luck.  During 1937, the castle came into the ownership of the Bottger family who have since converted it into a hotel.   Their website explains their many services and tells about the castle, its history, and the wonderful food that can be eaten where others once died.  You can plan your visit by going to  http://www.dragsholm-slot.dk/en  .

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The Ghosts Beneath

by on Aug.09, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

Chattanooga, TN doesn’t seem like a city that would have and something beneath it.  It is a small, Southern city. However, beneath the streets of Chattanooga, there is a forgotten, haunted city.   In March of 1867,  the city of Chattanooga was completely flooded.   The city streets were totally submerged and everything grinded to a halt.   In order to get from one building to the next,  residents and tourists had to travel by boat.  This was a disaster on an epic scale, dozens of people died, livestock was lost and homes drifted away in the water.   It was a catastrophe and during these times there was no help.  Residents had to wait it out and pray that none of their loved ones vanished with the constantly moving waters. This wasn’t the first time Chattanooga had flooded.  The city had flooded two times prior and residents were desperate for a solution.

According to Chattanooga writer, Cody Maxwell, sometime during this disaster the city came up with the idea of raising the streets of the city.   It seems that the flooded and waterlogged citizens decided that if they just raised half the city streets up 20ft it would take care of the flooding because the water would be under the streets.  Not only did they imagine this idea, they did it.   All of this was very poorly documented and it wasn’t until one gentleman noticed that the top parts of windows and doors were sticking out of the street  that anyone remembered that a large portion of Chattanooga was under the street.  Twenty feet beneath Market street there is an entire city waiting to be discovered.

This underground city is a regular stop on the Chattanooga ghost walk.  According to the Chattanooga Ghost Tours owner, Amy Petulla,  there is an entire city of ghosts under the streets of Chattanooga buried beneath the roads like part of the lost city.  Amy Petulla regularly takes groups to parts of the underground to tell them about the haunted history of the city.  She says that this is the most haunted part of the city and visitors have claimed to have been pushed, bitten, and grabbed in Underground Chattanooga.

Amy wrote a book about the ghosts of Chattanooga called, Haunted Chattanooga, and many of her terrifying stories of the things that happen beneath the streets can be found there.

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The Ghosts Beneath

by on Aug.09, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

Chattanooga, TN doesn’t seem like a city that would have and something beneath it.  It is a small, Southern city. However, beneath the streets of Chattanooga, there is a forgotten, haunted city.   In March of 1867,  the city of Chattanooga was completely flooded.   The city streets were totally submerged and everything grinded to a halt.   In order to get from one building to the next,  residents and tourists had to travel by boat.  This was a disaster on an epic scale, dozens of people died, livestock was lost and homes drifted away in the water.   It was a catastrophe and during these times there was no help.  Residents had to wait it out and pray that none of their loved ones vanished with the constantly moving waters. This wasn’t the first time Chattanooga had flooded.  The city had flooded two times prior and residents were desperate for a solution.

According to Chattanooga writer, Cody Maxwell, sometime during this disaster the city came up with the idea of raising the streets of the city.   It seems that the flooded and waterlogged citizens decided that if they just raised half the city streets up 20ft it would take care of the flooding because the water would be under the streets.  Not only did they imagine this idea, they did it.   All of this was very poorly documented and it wasn’t until one gentleman noticed that the top parts of windows and doors were sticking out of the street  that anyone remembered that a large portion of Chattanooga was under the street.  Twenty feet beneath Market street there is an entire city waiting to be discovered.

This underground city is a regular stop on the Chattanooga ghost walk.  According to the Chattanooga Ghost Tours owner, Amy Petulla,  there is an entire city of ghosts under the streets of Chattanooga buried beneath the roads like part of the lost city.  Amy Petulla regularly takes groups to parts of the underground to tell them about the haunted history of the city.  She says that this is the most haunted part of the city and visitors have claimed to have been pushed, bitten, and grabbed in Underground Chattanooga.

Amy wrote a book about the ghosts of Chattanooga called, Haunted Chattanooga, and many of her terrifying stories of the things that happen beneath the streets can be found there.

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The Ghosts of Searcy State Mental Hospital

by on Jul.23, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

  

The first ghost story I ever wrote was about Searcy State Hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama. When I was nothing more than a lowly graduate student, I did my internship there .I fell in love with it’s history and it’s white chipped walls. Everything about this old hospital spoke to me. Before I set foot on hospital grounds, my internship director, Dr. Kay Welsh, told our small group about Searcy’s long and dark history. At the time, I was amazed that a place so steeped in history and tragedy could still be used as a psychiatric hospital.  It was even more remarkable because most of those who worked there and lived there every day were oblivious to it’s history.

  Searcy State Hospital is located in Mt. Vernon, Alabama. Prior to being a state hospital the old hospital has a long and dark history that is very difficult to find, but easy to see upon casual observation. The hospital is encased in long, chipped, white walls that seem as old as anything in the United States. From outside these walls, you can see a battered watchtower that gives testament to the fact that the hospital is in the same location as a 300 year old fort. The fort bears witness to American history. It was originally a French fort and then a Spanish Fort. It switched hands during the Louisiana Purchase and became a US fort. After the US took possession of the fort it was converted to a military arsenal and became known as the Mount Vernon Arsenal.

The Arsenal switched hands again several times and was taken by the Confederates during the civil war only to be passed back over the United States again in 1862. From 1887 to 1894, The Arsenal became a Barracks and was used as a prison for the captured Apache people. The most famous of the Apache people to be held in these barracks was Geronimo. There is a door in the lobby of the old hospital that is labeled as the door to Geronimo’s cell.   It is beautiful and intricate.  Sadly, history notes that Geronimo was not kept in a cell during his stay at Mt. Vernon.   He was allowed freedom to wander the barrack, so the door is just a lovely bit of folklore.  The infamous Aaron Burr was also held at this secluded prison at some point after his notorious gun fight.

In 1900, the Barracks were transformed once again and the prison became a mental hospital. Searcy hospital was built as the African American mental hospital in Alabama. Conditions in the hospital were beyond questionable and at one time there were over 2000 patients in the crowded hospital and all were seen by one psychiatrist. All patients were expected to work in the fields.  After I wrote my first story about Searcy, I learned more about the tragedies that took place here.  I got numerous emails from family members of former patients asking if I had any access to records.  Apparently, many African American families had family members taken from them, institutionalized here, and they were never seen or heard from again.  I had an elderly lady write me asking if I could find out what happened to her mother.  It broke my heart that I could not.  She said her mother had been sane but had offended a white woman. The white woman had took her mother before a judge and no one ever heard from her again.  The elderly lady just wanted to know where her mother was buried.   Searcy was a place of unspeakable sorrow.

The hospital was desegregated in 1969, but it’s history is all around it.  Searcy to me tells the story of the tragedies in mental health.  Mental Health’s history is a history of stigma and bigotry.  It is a history of trying to forget people who are inconvenient and do away with those who are embarrassing or different.  In the 1960’s, under the leadership of Thomas Szaz, a well meaning group worked towards deinstitutionalization and undoing the tragedies of the period when people could be locked up and forgotten.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work well.  Deinstitutionalization quickly became an excuse to do away with all inpatient care and those that needed it have struggled to find it as it has become the tale of modern mental health care.  Searcy was closed for good in 2012.  Now, I work in outpatient psychiatric care and every day I have to tell people that really need more care that there is none available for them without a good amount of money.  The pendulum has swung the other direction.

A year ago, a well meaning writer called me for what I think was meant to be a gotcha moment.  She wanted to know if ghost story writers and collectors ever thought about the impact our stories have on mental health care.  She said that we made things worse for the mentally ill by linking them to ghost stories and horror movies.  I laughed and told her about my internship at Searcy.  I told her about the ghosts that haunted the old buildings.  I told her about the forgotten patients that had been buried there.   I told her that the ghost stories could only help all of us remember that some things should not be buried, locked up or forgotten and that maybe the ghosts that haunt these places are there to remind us that we need to take better care of the mentally ill and treat them like people.   They are there to remind us of all the living mentally ill that we try to forget, cut funding for, and who now end up in jail or homeless.   Sometimes ghosts stay for a reason.

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The Ghosts of Searcy State Mental Hospital

by on Jul.23, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

  

The first ghost story I ever wrote was about Searcy State Hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama. When I was nothing more than a lowly graduate student, I did my internship there .I fell in love with it’s history and it’s white chipped walls. Everything about this old hospital spoke to me. Before I set foot on hospital grounds, my internship director, Dr. Kay Welsh, told our small group about Searcy’s long and dark history. At the time, I was amazed that a place so steeped in history and tragedy could still be used as a psychiatric hospital.  It was even more remarkable because most of those who worked there and lived there every day were oblivious to it’s history.

  Searcy State Hospital is located in Mt. Vernon, Alabama. Prior to being a state hospital the old hospital has a long and dark history that is very difficult to find, but easy to see upon casual observation. The hospital is encased in long, chipped, white walls that seem as old as anything in the United States. From outside these walls, you can see a battered watchtower that gives testament to the fact that the hospital is in the same location as a 300 year old fort. The fort bears witness to American history. It was originally a French fort and then a Spanish Fort. It switched hands during the Louisiana Purchase and became a US fort. After the US took possession of the fort it was converted to a military arsenal and became known as the Mount Vernon Arsenal.

The Arsenal switched hands again several times and was taken by the Confederates during the civil war only to be passed back over the United States again in 1862. From 1887 to 1894, The Arsenal became a Barracks and was used as a prison for the captured Apache people. The most famous of the Apache people to be held in these barracks was Geronimo. There is a door in the lobby of the old hospital that is labeled as the door to Geronimo’s cell.   It is beautiful and intricate.  Sadly, history notes that Geronimo was not kept in a cell during his stay at Mt. Vernon.   He was allowed freedom to wander the barrack, so the door is just a lovely bit of folklore.  The infamous Aaron Burr was also held at this secluded prison at some point after his notorious gun fight.

In 1900, the Barracks were transformed once again and the prison became a mental hospital. Searcy hospital was built as the African American mental hospital in Alabama. Conditions in the hospital were beyond questionable and at one time there were over 2000 patients in the crowded hospital and all were seen by one psychiatrist. All patients were expected to work in the fields.  After I wrote my first story about Searcy, I learned more about the tragedies that took place here.  I got numerous emails from family members of former patients asking if I had any access to records.  Apparently, many African American families had family members taken from them, institutionalized here, and they were never seen or heard from again.  I had an elderly lady write me asking if I could find out what happened to her mother.  It broke my heart that I could not.  She said her mother had been sane but had offended a white woman. The white woman had took her mother before a judge and no one ever heard from her again.  The elderly lady just wanted to know where her mother was buried.   Searcy was a place of unspeakable sorrow.

The hospital was desegregated in 1969, but it’s history is all around it.  Searcy to me tells the story of the tragedies in mental health.  Mental Health’s history is a history of stigma and bigotry.  It is a history of trying to forget people who are inconvenient and do away with those who are embarrassing or different.  In the 1960’s, under the leadership of Thomas Szaz, a well meaning group worked towards deinstitutionalization and undoing the tragedies of the period when people could be locked up and forgotten.  Unfortunately, this didn’t work well.  Deinstitutionalization quickly became an excuse to do away with all inpatient care and those that needed it have struggled to find it as it has become the tale of modern mental health care.  Searcy was closed for good in 2012.  Now, I work in outpatient psychiatric care and every day I have to tell people that really need more care that there is none available for them without a good amount of money.  The pendulum has swung the other direction.

A year ago, a well meaning writer called me for what I think was meant to be a gotcha moment.  She wanted to know if ghost story writers and collectors ever thought about the impact our stories have on mental health care.  She said that we made things worse for the mentally ill by linking them to ghost stories and horror movies.  I laughed and told her about my internship at Searcy.  I told her about the ghosts that haunted the old buildings.  I told her about the forgotten patients that had been buried there.   I told her that the ghost stories could only help all of us remember that some things should not be buried, locked up or forgotten and that maybe the ghosts that haunt these places are there to remind us that we need to take better care of the mentally ill and treat them like people.   They are there to remind us of all the living mentally ill that we try to forget, cut funding for, and who now end up in jail or homeless.   Sometimes ghosts stay for a reason.

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Stone Throwing Poltergeists

by on Jul.19, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

Poltergeists have always fascinated me.  There are many theories about poltergeists.  In folklore, a poltergeist is the apparent manifestation of an imperceptible but noisy, disruptive or destructive entity.   Poltergeist means “noisy ghost” in German.  Poltergeist cases differ from regular hauntings in that they are particularly loud and often cause objects to move.  Physical harm to people is also possible in these cases.  One of the most interesting types of poltergeist activity was featured in my favorite novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hillhouse.  The stone-throwing poltergeists are rare and difficult for skeptics to explain. 

Stone-throwing poltergeist phenomena cases date back, at least, to 530 CE when it was recorded that Deacon, King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths’ physician, was besieged by stones. One of the more interesting cases of stone throwing poltergiest activity is the Grottendieck case. In 1903, a Dutch engineer living in Inodonesia, Grottendieck, awoke to a storm of rocks falling through the roof of his hut and hitting him in the head. Of course, this was concerning to Grottendieck who awoke a servant to help him figure out the origins of the rock storm. They explored the outside area around the hut and they found nothing that explained the rocks. Inside, the rocks continued to fall. They also began to change directions and started falling horizontally. Grottendieck was perplexed, but the serving boys was horrified and he ran away into the jungle.

No sooner had the boy fled than the rocks stopped falling. Grottendieck saved several of the stones and went to be. Grottendieck published a story on this incident in the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research. His hypothesis was that the stones had been sent by the ghost of his dead sister who was trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave. Many other researchers disagreed and believed that the rocks were a product of poltergeist activity brought on by the serving boy’s subconscious mind. There was never any consensus on the cause of this strange case and people still conjecture as to what might have causes the strange falling stones.

In 1981, Ward End residents at Thornton Road told police they could not locate the source of stones being thrown that were causing significant damage to windows and roof tiles. The police were called in to investigate.  They staked the properties out and waited.  They stayed overnight.  They used cameras and recording devices, but despite all their work, they couldn’t find any observable source for the rocks that continued to besiege Ward End.   Of course, they couldn’t blame a poltergeist so they reported that the criminal must have used a long distance catapult. 

Like all other poltergeist activity, there is no consensus on what causes the stone throwing incidents in these cases.  Many believe that the stones are thrown by ghosts.  Others believe that the telekinetic powers of certain people in crisis cause these events.  Most believe that the rock throwing must be caused by some brilliant prankster who is capable of raining rocks on neighborhoods with handcrafted catapults’.  Whatever the cause, I imagine in must be terrifying to look out your window and see rocks raining from the sky.

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Stone Throwing Poltergeists

by on Jul.19, 2017, under From the Web

Reposted from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places | Go to Original Post

Poltergeists have always fascinated me.  There are many theories about poltergeists.  In folklore, a poltergeist is the apparent manifestation of an imperceptible but noisy, disruptive or destructive entity.   Poltergeist means “noisy ghost” in German.  Poltergeist cases differ from regular hauntings in that they are particularly loud and often cause objects to move.  Physical harm to people is also possible in these cases.  One of the most interesting types of poltergeist activity was featured in my favorite novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hillhouse.  The stone-throwing poltergeists are rare and difficult for skeptics to explain. 

Stone-throwing poltergeist phenomena cases date back, at least, to 530 CE when it was recorded that Deacon, King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths’ physician, was besieged by stones. One of the more interesting cases of stone throwing poltergiest activity is the Grottendieck case. In 1903, a Dutch engineer living in Inodonesia, Grottendieck, awoke to a storm of rocks falling through the roof of his hut and hitting him in the head. Of course, this was concerning to Grottendieck who awoke a servant to help him figure out the origins of the rock storm. They explored the outside area around the hut and they found nothing that explained the rocks. Inside, the rocks continued to fall. They also began to change directions and started falling horizontally. Grottendieck was perplexed, but the serving boys was horrified and he ran away into the jungle.

No sooner had the boy fled than the rocks stopped falling. Grottendieck saved several of the stones and went to be. Grottendieck published a story on this incident in the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research. His hypothesis was that the stones had been sent by the ghost of his dead sister who was trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave. Many other researchers disagreed and believed that the rocks were a product of poltergeist activity brought on by the serving boy’s subconscious mind. There was never any consensus on the cause of this strange case and people still conjecture as to what might have causes the strange falling stones.

In 1981, Ward End residents at Thornton Road told police they could not locate the source of stones being thrown that were causing significant damage to windows and roof tiles. The police were called in to investigate.  They staked the properties out and waited.  They stayed overnight.  They used cameras and recording devices, but despite all their work, they couldn’t find any observable source for the rocks that continued to besiege Ward End.   Of course, they couldn’t blame a poltergeist so they reported that the criminal must have used a long distance catapult. 

Like all other poltergeist activity, there is no consensus on what causes the stone throwing incidents in these cases.  Many believe that the stones are thrown by ghosts.  Others believe that the telekinetic powers of certain people in crisis cause these events.  Most believe that the rock throwing must be caused by some brilliant prankster who is capable of raining rocks on neighborhoods with handcrafted catapults’.  Whatever the cause, I imagine in must be terrifying to look out your window and see rocks raining from the sky.

Leave a Comment more...

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