Manage episode 212844465 series 1582881
Billed now as the Pennhurst Haunted Asylum, Pennhurst was never an asylum. It wasn't a home for the mentally ill when it first opened its doors in 1908. It was a home for epileptics and the intellectually disabled, then called "idiotic" and "feeble-minded". And then it became a home for basically everyone society either didn't want to take care of or didn't know how to take care of. And it soon became severely overcrowded. And then it became both overcrowded and underfunded. And then it became a nightmare for it's "children" (the term its patients were given, whether they were six months old or sixty). Understaffing lead to squalid conditions where people were living and dying covered in their own feces and in wounds given to them by either themselves, other patients, or, in some cases, staff members.
The government, after numerous lawsuits, shut Pennhurst down for good in 1987. And today, we look at why things got so bad they felt compelled to do so. And, we examine life for the mentally handicapped today in America. Have things gotten any better? What, as a society and culture, are we supposed to do for and with those who can do for themselves? How do we take care of each other? A lot of hard questions are asked in a thought-provoking edition of Timesuck.
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