Friday, 8 May 2009

Checkout Time at the Asylum

Here's an interesting article on former occupants of Bellvue from the NY Times:

To the healthy and/or wealthy, Bellevue was still considered a hellhole. But that didn’t prevent it from becoming a pit stop for a roiling, turbulently unhappy segment of cultural and literary New York, a chapter in the biographies of countless writers and artists. A very young Eugene O’Neill was taken there after attempting suicide, and in 1935, Malcolm Lowry (Under the Volcano) spent two weeks being treated for acute alcoholism. In 1946, the story goes, Joan Vollmer, the wife of William Burroughs, was found on the street, incoherent and neglecting her infant daughter. She was committed for psychosis brought on by the amphetamines she and Burroughs had been injecting. Vollmer may or may not have been psychotic, but Burroughs was certain he didn’t want her in Bellevue. Seven years earlier, he had gone to his analyst’s office and presented him with the tip of his own finger, which he had severed in order to impress a young man. The analyst had called Bellevue. Burroughs knew what was on the other side of those gates, and he got Vollmer out. Read more

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