By Mike Wilcox, Publisher
Some days- one of those being yesterday, I feel like I belong in an insane asylum. It just seemed like I couldn’t do anything right. When I get that way I get angry. Sometimes I bang my head against the wall. Other times I simply yell at my dog.
I wouldn’t have been able to do that 130 years ago. Back in the day- 1800’s insane asylums were used to house the mentally ill. In the 1900’s the practice continue for the first 70 years of the century.
While in college I promised myself I would never do anything that would make others deem me insane. I came to this promise after visiting the Michigan Asylum for Insane Criminals. This visit- it was part of our grade for Sociology 202, left an indelible mark that remains today. The asylum could have been mistaken for the counterpart that the academy award winning movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was utilized for its set.
I couldn’t get out of that asylum fast enough. I thought the walkers on “The Walking Dead” were scary. Trying being in an insane asylum, where most of the inhabitants had created a violent crime. And then realizing they walked like zombies because they were all juiced up with drugs. It was a dreadful site and one I never wanted to see again.
Anyhow, back to the promise. After a brief study I soon realized I could be committed for a variety of silly reasons. So far I have managed to maintain my sanity, but if I lived 130 years ago they might have questioned me out of the get.
Back then there were a myriad of reasons why one would be tossed in to the looney bin. Personally I would have qualified on several counts. For instance one could be locked-up for reading to many novels or studying religion too much.
If you experienced business trouble, like filing for bankruptcy you could earn a trip to the insane asylum. The same could happen back then if you were the losing party in a lawsuit. Politics, or expressing one’s viewpoint can get us in trouble even today, but back 130 years ago showing too much enthusiasm for a political candidate could get you a one way ticket to the nearest asylum.
Expressing one’s sexuality was taboo. Suppressing masturbation could get you committed. So could too much masturbation. And if you masturbated for more than thirty years that too was a no no. Uterine derangement (what?); excessive sexual abuse, and venereal excesses were reasons to lock you up as well.
If your friends were considered “bad company” you might find yourself in an asylum. If you were kicked in the head by a horse, your chances of being in an insane asylum were pretty good. If you served bad whiskey to friends or family they could commit you. The reasons to “label” you insane went on and on back then.
I know I would have qualified 17-times over. Bad business deals, expressing politics, masturbation and bad whiskey would have probably labeled me super insane. Nowadays, however, I’m proud to say most consider me normal. Or at least that’s what I’m thinking. Can we all agree?