Friday, January 20, 2012

The Stream of Madness

Crazy pill count:
AM 250 Nuvigil
PM 6/25 Symbyax, 5 Zyprexa

This past weekend I went to The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
I have been meaning to go for years, but let's be honest, it's hard to wake up and say, "Man, I'm in the mood for the Holocaust today."  And so, year after year I never went. Until Sunday.

I was fascinated to learn that the mentally ill were some of the first people to be euthanized.  You didn't even need to be Jewish.  Just crazy.  I would have been toast. 


At this time of "purification," some crazies were not killed, but rather sterilized. Involuntary sterilization it was called.  They liked Darwin's idea of survival of the fittest and thought they'd help out.  The feeble-minded were considered, "life unworthy of life." The feeble-minded were defined in the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 and Winston Churchill was one of the early drafters of this bill.

That's right, I said Winston Churchill. The same Winnie, who himself, was bipolar. The same Winnie I have referenced in this blog, here and here, as being an inspiration to a successful life while living with a mental illness. The same Winnie I admire.

I feel like I just found out Santa Clause will no longer be delivering toys to hopeful boys and girls, because he is, instead, doing hard time in the North Pole Penitentiary.


Winston Churchill believed in the confinement, segregation and sterilization of the mentally ill.  He said they should be, "segregated under proper conditions so that their curse died with them and was not transmitted to future generations."

However, because of the expense of forced segregation, he actually preferred sterilization to confinement.  He described sterilisation as a "simple surgical operation so the inferior could be permitted freely in the world without causing much inconvenience to others."

He wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister, "I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed." You can read the full article and letter at the website for The Churchill Centre and Museum here.

I feel disappointed.

Winston Churchill is thought of as a hero.  He refused to make peace with Germany while Hitler was in power and was instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany. The U.S. Congress and President John F. Kennedy granted him an honorary American citizenship in 1963. Time Magazine declared him Man of the Year in both 1940 and 1949. He was an accomplished painter and writer, and even won a Noble Prize in Literature in 1953. All this, yet he viewed the mentally ill as "life unworthy of life."

"A Study of Boats" by Winston Churchill

Winston wrote about his struggle with mental illness, calling his depression his Black Dog. He knew the depths of despair of mental illness, first hand, yet...yet I don't know. My disappointment is taking place of words.

Winston had five children.  His first daughter, Diane Churchill,  became involved with the Samaritans, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention, 1962, but committed suicide, herself, only a year later at the age of 54.

"The stream of madness," Winston referenced is indeed strong.  Although I am appalled, to say the least, at Winston's idea of sterilization of "the mad," I have to admit a part of me does understand. It is something I struggle with myself - the idea of my stream of madness being passed on.

Perhaps everything is not black and white.

Rethink Mental Illness, an organization in England, unveiled a statue, in Norwich, of Winston Churchill in a straight jacket, in March 2006. It was part of their first anti-stigma regional campaign.  This statue was their artistic attempt in showing "the straight jacket of mental illness."

It was their hope to portray people with mental illness in a more positive image. They are on a mission to help end the discrimination of those who suffer from mental illness. They stated, "The reason we chose Churchill was to try to celebrate his life - to celebrate the fact that this was a man who was voted the Greatest Briton in a BBC poll, yet who experienced mental health problems all his life."


Winston's family was in an uproar about this statue; and so it was removed. One of his grandsons called it, "absurd and pathetic."  He said it was, "sensation-seeking" and, "offensive to them and the people who revered him." You can read the article about it in the BBC news here.

What do I think?

Perhaps nothing is black and white.

Until next time...


1 comment:

  1. Wow, I did not know that about Churchill. That's a tough one.

    ReplyDelete