Thursday, January 11th, 1912

Thursday, January 11th, 1912

I awoke at six o’clock to the sound of someone knocking on the door.  It took me several seconds to orient myself to my new surroundings.

Journal of Dr. Arthur Corman. January 11th, 1912

I crawled from bed and answered the door.

Adam had taken the liberty of having breakfast sent to my room.

I opened the door and a young woman pushed a cart inside containing a silver platter, carafe of orange juice and pot of coffee.

She made her way to my dining table, and set a single place setting.

She placed the food on the table, wished me a good day and left.

Last night after arriving at the asylum Adam had escorted me through the main lobby which was dark and abandoned. We took an elevator to the third floor and he showed me to my living quarters.

Looking at my luggage sitting in the empty room I remember thinking how sad it was that my entire life can fit into two trunks.

The apartment was quite grand.

The main sitting room featured a large stone fireplace, two sofas and four chairs. The ceilings were very high and a large chandelier provided light.

The adjoining bedroom had a large bed with clean sheets and  soft down pillows.

I was very tired and not much in the mood for breakfast but decided that it would be wise to eat something before I started my first day.

The food was wonderful and the coffee strong.

After breakfast I bathed, shaved and got dressed.

The combination of breakfast and bath did me wonders, I felt electric.

I back tracked my steps from last night and arrived on the main floor.  A woman named Kimberly Baker was waiting for me and we entered her office to fill out a mountain of paperwork.

After several hours we finished and was again greeted by Adam Berg who would escort me on a tour of Reardon Institute.

We started our tour in the south wing.  The south wing was dedicated to private patients, these patients were admitted by their families who apparently paid great sums of money in hope of curing their loved ones.

The plan for these patients was moral treatment meaning they were treated with dignity, kindness and respect.

The rooms were brightly lit and cheery music filled the air. 

Fresh flowers were placed in every room; the smell of lilacs was intoxicating.

I remember wondering where they got fresh lilacs this time of year.

The patients in the south wing were all dressed in fine clothing and nicely groomed.

Adam explained that family members were allowed to visit on the last Sunday of each month; he also stated that Reardon Institute promised a cure within one year of being admitted. If the patient was not cured and returned home the hospital would refund all money and continue treatment.

High stakes for Reardon, a nightmare for the doctors.

The layout of the asylum was like a “U” with the front facing west and the north and south wings extending east. In the center of the "U"was a courtyard with fountains, topiary and beautifully ornate gardens.

The first floor of the asylum was used for patients and offices, the second floor was living quarters for staff and the third floor was reserved for doctor housing.

The center section of the hospital rose above the north and south wings, the fourth floor housed the board of directors known as the Council Seven and the fifth floor was occupied by Dr. Stuart Reardon.

Adam explained that Dr. Reardon was very private and seldom made public appearances.

My tour continued well into the afternoon as he guided me through the giant structure. 

There were two libraries. The first was a general library available to the patients and the second was the medical library containing thousands of books and papers dealing with psychiatric care.

Another aspect of Reardon Institute that I found very interesting were the amount of specialized laboratories such as the Eusociality/Entomology lab which studied the social order of insects as a means to better understand mental illness in humans.

The final leg of the tour was the north wing. The north wing was not public knowledge, sort of a dirty little secret.

The entrance to the north wing was staffed by two security guards bearing weapons. They unlocked the door and we entered a dark hallway.

It seemed that Reardon had struck a deal with state run prisons around the country to accept overflow criminals or those deemed to dangerous or ill for treatment.

The north wing was a dark prison.

Most of the inmates were male, they were confined to barren cells that reeked with the stench of urine and feces. Most of the men were barely clothed or naked.

I was relieved once my tour of the north wing ended.

My day wrapped with dinner in the dining hall, a meal of broiled lamb, steamed rice and fresh asparagus accompanied by several glasses of red wine. Adam made sure to point out that the wine was Reardon’s own private label.

Yes life could be good at Reardon Institute but as I had witnessed today it really did matter what side of the fence you were on.

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