Sunday Synopsis

Missed my Sunday Synopsis last week.  As late as it is getting to be, I almost missed this one and this week I have no excuse. (Guess I did miss it. It was before midnight when I started writing this.)

I have been a bad blogger this week, but it is not because I am not writing, to the contrary, I have vested a good 5000 words into this new project this week and that is half as far as I got into the last one in four months. The crime novel is parked and this new work is spilling over from my brain. I have a rough outline and the chapters have already formed in my brain from beginning to end. Now, it is a matter of getting the words down on paper.

I can’t do the NaNoWriMo style of writing a thin story from beginning to end, then going back to heavily edit. I finish a chapter and then I have to go over and over it until I get it just right. I want the researched details there. I want the voice of the characters established without too many words. Personality is what I work with as the plot develops so I don’t want to wait four chapters in to flesh out character profiles. There is some history to develop these personalities, but the bulk of the back story will come out as the story unfolds.

The point is, I am writing. It is flowing well and I like where it is going. I had to add some physical violence to my gunshot scene to make it more realistic and believable. I had not intended for things to get that dark in the beginning but that is where it needed to go.

Enough about that.

In 1952, I learned from my research, Milledgeville State Hospital, a gigantic institution, the largest in the world, housed more than 11,000 patients committed from every section of the state of Georgia. A facility designed to care for “idiots, lunatics, epileptics, and the insane.”  To put that into perspective, there were 36 counties in GA with a smaller total population in 2010, and over 100 in 1950 with a smaller population. Milledgeville was one of three state run facilities.

That speaks volumes to the society’s level of intolerance.


Carted away.


Locked up.

To be cared for by, “People more capable.” To be treated, medicated, mistreated, and possibly “restored.” Electrocuted and lobotomized without consent. Possibly returned to their communities “restored,” months, years later, or never. There is a cemetery there that literally thousands of “unclaimed” are buried in.

We haven’t found all of the solutions yet, but we have come a long way from where we were.

I would most likely fit into the lunatic category.

Are we more or less humane?

16 thoughts on “Sunday Synopsis

  1. I would have to say more inhumane, at least as far as society’s acceptance of the mentally ill. Still there is a stigma.

    Be kinder to yourself, Susan. It’s okay to miss a Sunday Synopsis. I barely crank out two posts a week. And you’re NOT a lunatic. Well let me think about that . . . haha!

  2. You mentioning the institutions is interesting.. because we know, without a shadow of a doubt that if we had lived in those times, our son would have been institutionalised. Kind of puts things into perspective. The new work sounds great! 🙂

    • It is amazing that the epileptics were institutionalized even into the 90s in some cases. So sad that many could not be controlled by meds well enough to be managed at home. My kid’s great grandmother (father’s side) lived to be 104 and when when was in her 90s she was driving to go visit her daughter in her 60s who had always been institutionalized.

  3. Congratulations on getting so much writing done! Woo hoo! I barely manage to do one blog post a week.
    I don’t know if people are more or less inhumane. There have always been evil people. And though the society that put people in state institutions was inhumane because it did not allow for alternatives (particularly for families who could not afford to care for disabled members at home or in private facilities), I don’t know that the intent was to be so.
    Yes, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness–and various other mental/physical disabilities or challenges, but it is certainly discussed more openly now, and that’s a start at least. Homosexuality used to be classified as a mental illness and a crime.

  4. I hate to think about what conditions were like in that state hospital. What a way to spend one’s life. Locked up and likely forgotten about as that cemetery full of “unclaimed” individuals would suggest. Very sad.

    • I do think we have come a long way. There were times, different administrations, wherein things were nice for the patients (inmates they called them) and times when things were just horrible. No clothes or sanitation, they were hosed down weekly after being made to work in the fields.Young women bled wherever they were because they did not have enough rags for protection….it was more than sad…these were real people.

  5. I can’t do NaNo type writing either. I’m glad the new work is going well. But oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine 11,000 people housed in one institution. And if they included people from all over the state, they must have assumed there would be no family visits. That’s so sad. I also wonder–1952 in Georgia. This surely must have been a segregated facility. So was there another one besides?

    • It was a huge four story building. Different sections housed black and white. There is a short story at the end of this research book I am reading written by Lois W. Lane (her real name) titled “Posey with the Insane and the Sane”. I am not certain the era the story is about, but she is a black woman who was a patient there many years, becomes “restored,” and then lives out her life in the community.” A very interesting read in any era. I have a letter to the publisher trying to pinpoint the era of this story as there is nothing in the story to indicate this.

  6. This is going to be an amazing story. I’m getting into it already.
    Yes, I DO think we are more humane on the one hand and not in another. One step forward and two steps back. Sure, were’ not throwing everyone who doesn’t fit the ‘bill’ like they used to but now, many mentally ill people aren’t diagnosed nor given the time of day. Seems the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction.

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