"The mark of an immature man is that he would die knobly for a cause. The mark of a mature man is that he would live humbly for one" - Catcher in the Rye -WARNING WRITER SPELLING CHALLENGED! But Sometimes you have to say "what the fuck!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

“Lobotomy Gets Them Home” -Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle

Repost from 6/21/2004

"I must relate the horrors as I recall them, in the hope that some force for mankind might be moved to relieve forever the unfortunate creatures who are still imprisoned in the back wards of decaying institutions". – Frances Farmer on her past experience as a mental patient

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds" –Albert Einstein

Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle - Nirvana
It's so relieving
To know that you're leaving as soon as you get paid
It's so relaxing
To hear that you're asking wherever you get your way
It's so soothing
To know that you'll sue me, this is starting to sound the same

I miss the comfort in being sad (x3)

In her false witness, we hope you're still with us,
To see if they float or drown
Our favorite patient, a display of patience,
Disease-covered Puget Sound
She'll come back as fire, to burn all the liars,
And leave a blanket of ash on the ground

I miss the comfort in being sad (x3)

Im crazy give me a lobotomy!
Frances Farmer, Hollywood Starlet, lobotomized like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Coo coos Nest. Why? She was loud, she smoked, she drank, she talked back, she was headstrong, mouthy. She did not fit into the 50’s mold of womanhood.

Those damn crazy fuckers...
People who are different are often chastised, harassed, and sometimes killed, for not fitting societies mold. Near my redneck hometown, is the town of Steilacoom. Here is the infamous hospital that imprisoned Frances Farmer for much of her life. Within the walls of this sanitarium, Farmers creative spirit died, forever silencing a great mind.

Free to live?
I worry sometimes about what happens to “freaks” and “crazies” in society. My last post describes 3 teenagers wrongfully convicted of murder based on the “evidence” that they wore black clothes, read Stephan King, and listened to Metallica. Often times, society perceives someone as crazy for creativity, brilliance and nonconformism.

Im melting.... Im melting....
If I lived 200 years ago, would I have been burned at the stake for being a witch? If I lived in the 1950’s would I have been institutionalized and given a lobotomy? The answer is probably yes to both.

Western State Sanitarium
The ruins of Old Western State Sanitarium are about a 40-minute drive from my hometown. Here Francis Farmer was among thousands of “deviants” institutionalized and possibly lobotomized. Deviants were manic-depressives, gays and lesbians, outspoken nonconformists, recovering war veterans, and others.
Old Western State sits in ruins, with the boiler room remaining intact. According to folklore, it is haunted by many of the former residents.

Frances Farmer (info stolen from web)
Born in Seattle, Frances Farmer studied drama at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1936, she went to Hollywood where she secured a seven-year contract with Paramount. In 1942, she was wrongfully declared 'mentally incompetent' and committed to a series of asylums and public mental hospitals, where eventually she received a lobotomy. After eleven years she was released, and spent some of the remaining years of her life tending the parents who had committed her and taking odd jobs. She appeared on "This Is Your Life" (1952), and ran her own TV show, "Frances Farmer Presents" (1958) for six years. She died of cancer in 1970.

Lobotomy -- This was par for the course for any “undesirable”, a way to control someone who would not be controlled, a way to cure “mental illness”. As gruesome and barbaric as this may seem to us now, hundreds of thousands would be lobotomized between 1935-1960. Dr Walter Freeman is known as the pioneer of lobotomy, he performed over 3,000, some in a mass assembly line butcher.

Description of Lobotomy (from web)
The procedure involved first knocking the patient unconscious with two or three jolts of electricity from an electroshock therapy machine. After the convulsions subsided and the patient lay insensate, Walter Freeman lifted the patient's eyelid and inserted an ice pick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A few taps with a surgical hammer breached the bone. Freeman took a position behind the patient's head, pushed the leucotome about an inch and a half into the frontal lobe of the patient's brain, and moved the sharp tip back and forth. Then he repeated the process with the other eye socket.

The King of Lobotomy meets a Holywood Starlet
In the late 1940s at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, Wash., Freemen met the movie actress Frances Farmer, according to Farmer's biographer William Arnold.

Farmer had been a patient there for five years, the victim of her family's intolerance of her unconventional and wild behavior. Whether Freeman lobotomized her remains unclear, though Arnold says he did. Farmer's relatives and Western State's staff psychiatrist at the time said it never happened, but Frank Freeman says his father verified Farmer's operation and identified her as the patient shown in the world's most famous lobotomy photograph, an oft-reproduced shot showing Freeman using his hairy and muscular arms to hammer the leucotome into a woman's eye at Western State as a crowd watched. Filmed interviews of Farmer made after her discharge from the hospital show a detached and flatly demeanored (though clearly intelligent) woman, an outcome consistent with lobotomy

Frances meets Freeman

Dr. Freeman

Western State Hospital
By any measure, Western State Hospital in the 1940s was a dismal place. More than 2,700 patients -- 500 more than the official capacity -- were crammed into its antiquated wards. Many patients were housed in decrepit, turn-of-the-century buildings, similar to one that had been destroyed by fire (killing two patients) in 1947. After the fire, a makeshift ward had been established in an unheated breezeway originally used as an exercise court. The area had been enclosed with canvas, but it provided little protection against wind, rain, and cold. The P-I found that it was still being used as a ward two years later.
Because of staff shortages, patients were being put to bed around 4 p.m. and kept there 12 hours. Inadequate salaries and poor living quarters complicated the problem of getting efficient help. Live-in ward attendants were housed in a basement with sagging floors and crumbling cement walls. Dr. William N. Keller, hospital superintendent, said the hospital needed about $8 million to improve the facilities and expand the staff, a figure far greater than what the Legislature was willing to provide. “People seem to be more interested in how cheaply they can take care of their mentally ill rather than how well,” he commented (P-I, 1949).

“Lobotomy Gets Them Home”
Given these conditions, hospital administrators were naturally interested in a new kind of surgery that promised to help psychologically disabled people leave the institution and return to useful lives: transorbital lobotomy. The procedure involved the insertion of a thin, icepick-like instrument called a leucotome under a patient’s eyelid and into the frontal lobes of the brain, where it was used to sever nerves thought to cause severe emotional disturbances. It was developed by Dr. Walter G. Freeman, a prominent Washington, D.C., neurologist and psychiatrist, whose motto was “lobotomy gets them home.”
Freeman demonstrated his technique at Western State Hospital on August 19, 1947, operating on 13 patients. At one point, a photographer snapped his picture, producing what has become the world’s most famous lobotomy photograph. The often-reproduced image shows Freeman wielding his leucotome on a comatose woman. Before his death in 1972, Freeman reportedly told his son Frank that the woman in the photograph was Frances Farmer.
said she had heard women on her ward “pleading” for lobotomies, because “They had been told the operation would sever the little nerve that controls one’s sense of grief” (Indianapolis Star). But she reportedly told Kibbee and other friends that she did not have the operation

Western State Hospital and ghosts

Old Western State Sanitarium, Tacoma/Lakewood.

Tacoma - Lakewood - The Old Western State Sanitarium -Feelings of being watched, panic and sadness. On some rainy foggy night when the Moon is full, You can hear moans and footsteps in the late to early morning hours. Believed to be patients that once were institutionalized there. That place is in ruins now but there remains and boiler room underground that is where most the sounds are heard. The fence around also shakes when no one else is with you.

We will never forget you Frances!

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