Soul Murder


This is the hospitalized care of people who are emotionally distressed. People who are most troubled and most in need of compassionate, respectful therapy are being turned into lobotomized, electrocuted, drugged bodies without souls.

I just woke up in a nightmare.  I was hospitalized in Hutchings Psychiatric Center (NY state hospital).  I had done nothing wrong, nor did I have any mental illness.  I had been locked up for speaking out.  A lot of things were going on—I was talking to staff members.  The layout was a maze of hallways and office cubicles.  There were two women with whom I had some kind of working relationship.  I think one of them was the real-time manager of my apartment building, who has a position of authority that she holds with compassion.

An aide was working with a very large pair of shears.  I said something; she responded by moving toward me, laughing, and flexing the shears in an aggressively threatening way.  She would not hesitate to attack me.  I ran, wanting to find a phone, get the number of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service and call a lawyer for help.

Various other staff members were likewise engaging in intimidating, threatening acts toward me.  I couldn’t find any telephone, telephone directory, or either of the two women whom I expected to be helpful.  I was surrounded by people who wanted the death of my soul, my being, my existence as an autonomous person.

Dick, my social worker friend who lives six hundred miles away, was on the phones.  In the beginning, he was roaring with joyous laughter as I recounted things I’d said to staffers.  As the dream progressed, whenever I picked up a phone, Dick would be on it demanding to know what was happening.  I would talk for a minute then have to drop the phone and run for my life.  In the end, he was bellowing and roaring outrage, frustrated that he was unable to get to me to provide protection.

I saw my mother, smiling and cheerful, enter an outside door and hand something—it looked like a covered dish—to a staff member to give to me.  I ran screaming for the door, pounding on it.  The door swung open, my mother came running, put her arms around me and asked what was wrong.  I said a few words and in an instant she understood the big picture and took off running.  Moments later she was back with the two women I’d been hunting for, a couple other hospital administrators, and the head of the hospital.

The head of the hospital was totally black.  He was a black man, wearing black clothes—even his eyeballs were black.  (He was not an African-American; he was a man made of darkness.)  His head and body were flat planes, not rounded; he was misshapen.  He was Evil.  He tilted his head and looked down at me with fake compassion, when I knew he was completely deceptive.  (A psychiatrist I know quit his job at Hutchings and said the administration “could only be described as sadistic.”)

I knew that nobody was going to believe my testimony about what the staff members were doing.  I had slipped into a world where what was real was unreal.  The woman with the shears was the only thing I could remember specifically, and I couldn’t remember her name or description.  As fast as other attacks on me would occur, I would lose the memory of specifics that would be necessary to file a complaint.  It was everybody; it wasn’t just an isolated incident.

In the dream, I was as I am today—intelligent, clear-minded, articulate, and outspoken against injustice.  In the final scene of the dream, where I faced the director, I was being sucked into the humiliation, degradation and shame that I felt during all the years I actually was in hospital.

The terror is not physical death.  All the system cares about is physical injury and threats to the body.  That misses the entire point.  (Just prior to sleeping, I had been reading about the Hindu religion, which recognizes the superficial desires are for pleasure and success, but the deeper human needs are for continuity, knowledge and joy.) 

Psychiatric hospitalization is supposed to be about care of the psyche–soul/mind/spirit.  Imagine soul-death.  Imagine somebody being able to—and desirous of—extinguishing the essence of your being.  Create a world of bodies without personalities—that’s what inpatient psychiatric staff workers want.  They want utterly compliant zombies.  They do not consciously confront this wish in themselves but it is, nevertheless, there.  They want to kill every aspect of a human being that is not obedient to their wishes.  They want to kill the spirit—the immortal spirit that belongs to the Lord.

This is the hospitalized care of people who are emotionally distressed.  People who are most troubled and most in need of compassionate, respectful therapy are being turned into lobotomized, electrocuted, drugged bodies without souls.

I woke up in the kind of terror only a nightmare can instill.  I was taught that the major function of dreams is to try to find solutions to problems—to cohere opposing realities. For example, I dream about my sisters endlessly.  I loved them and counted them as my greatest resource; in the end, I had to estrange myself from them because of their endless hurtfulness.  How is it possible for the sisters I loved to hurt me so badly?  My unconscious mind is continuously trying to figure it out.

Likewise, inpatient psychiatry.  How can intelligent, morally upright people, deserving of respect and admiration, be treated with such brutal emotional cruelty?  The closer I get to full recovery, the more I wake up knowing all the dreams about the horrors of inpatient psychiatry.  I now understand that I am dreaming about these horrific experiences all the time, every night–trying to find a healing way to make sense of it.

Inpatient psychiatry does not have as its goal restoring patients to independent, passionate, unique lives.  Its goal is to completely extinguish the individuality of the soul, leaving behind nothing but a submissive, compliant body.

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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12 Responses to Soul Murder

  1. candeederragon says:

    Tell me more about Dr Ronald Thessee hs my dr now

    • annecwoodlen says:

      I have not told you anything about Dr. Ronald Thessee. I’ve never heard of him.

      • candeederragon says:

        Dr Thesee is mentioned in the Mohawk moms story is not him?

      • annecwoodlen says:

        You are referencing “Soul Murder,” which does not mention Dr. Thesee. I have posted a total of about 30,000 words on this blog. If you wish to remind me of something I may have written about Dr. Thesee then you need to reference the post in which he appears.

      • candeederragon says:

        He now works for hutchings psychiatric center

      • annecwoodlen says:

        I have found the blog you are referencing–https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-other-mohawk-mom-part-iii/.” In “The Other Mohawk Mom” I have written everything I know about Dr. Thesee. You say you are his patient now. Inpatient at Hutchings Psychiatric Center, or outpatient? How do you feel you are being treated? Do you need help? Is Dr. Thesee making your life better or worse? Tell me what you need and I will see if I can be helpful to you.

      • candeederragon says:

        I was just shocked to see his name, I’m in a out patient program with him he does seem a little controlling sometimes though

      • annecwoodlen says:

        If at any time you think he has crossed the boundary of what is appropriate for a psychiatrist, feel free to get in touch with me. What little I know of Dr. Thesee would suggest that he abuses his power.

  2. Andrea says:

    I thought this was a very good article.Psychiatric wards are abusive, unsafe and controlled by oppression and more medication to knock patients out. No wonder patients end up banging their head the wall even then no one wants to listen to’nutters’. Even,patients who are not outspoken and fully complaint with the regime turn into medical zombie thats called getting well!s-

  3. Will says:

    That is complete BS my little brother is currently in hutchings psychiatric hospital and he is treated very well and he would’ve told me about anything like that

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