Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key  

list_insane_asylumThis list of reasons one might be committed to an insane asylum in the late-1800s is one of my favorite things. It comes from West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane which still stands and is open for “Heritage” and “Ghost” tours. Huh? If I were committed to a creepy insane asylum, that would be the very last place I’d choose to haunt in my afterlife. I’d choose something more like the Bora Bora Nui Resort. Yep, I would haunt the shit out of one of those little villas set literally on the ocean. I should mention that the asylum also hosts Zombie Paintball and and a drag show, both of which sound a hell of a lot more fun than being spooked by pissed off, long dead lunatics.

Reading through the list of reasons for committal, it’s clear that I would have been a long term resident at my friendly neighborhood insane asylum if I were around in the 1800s. This is, of course, presupposing that I’d survived the Salem Witch Trials prior to that. Let’s peruse the list, shall we? I suspect a good number of us would have been potential patients at the asylum. Right off the bat, I’m screwed:

Intemperance and Business Trouble.  I’ve been known to imbibe an alcoholic beverage or two in my time and anyone who reads this blog knows that, despite my license to practice law, I’ve earned approximately zero dollars over the last eight years. If that’s not business trouble, I don’t know what is. While I wouldn’t necessarily draw a causal connection between intemperance and my business trouble, both of these character flaws exist simultaneously so I’d have to plead guilty on this one.

I clearly have a Hereditary Predisposition to insanity. Thanks a lot, Mom. I would also be remiss if I didn’t blame my grandmother and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. You’re all a bunch of crazies, but I love you.

Ill Treatment by Husband. Check. Um, here’s an idea though…perhaps they could have thrown the husbands in the asylum, not the long-suffering wives!

I don’t think they could get me on Imaginary Female Trouble. All my female trouble has been based firmly in reality. I am, however, clearly suffering from Hysteria (i.e., “female trouble”), an Immoral Life (see Intemperance, above), and Laziness. I’m also guilty of Using Medicine to Prevent Conception, Menstrual Derangement, Mental Excitement and, worst of all…Novel Reading!

Overaction of the Mind would be a yes; Overstudy of Religion, a definite no. I have been accused of Political Excitement, especially since moving to the South. For some reason, I was considered very calmly political when I lived in Berkeley, California. I can also be Bad Company at times, just ask Ad Man.

I don’t think I’ve ever had Bad Whiskey, but whiskey has definitely been bad to me. I am pleased to report that, as far as I know, I have not suffered from either Bloody Flux or Brain Fever. Neither of those symptoms sounds like a good time.

As for the rest of the first column, I admit to Business Nerves and Congestion of the Brain. I’m sure I displayed both to a few judges in Los Angeles County courtrooms. I’m safe on the rest of the symptoms in that column, but I’m not going to make any promises that Desertion by Husband won’t be forthcoming.

I definitely have Domestic Affliction and Domestic Trouble, but again, why do I have to go to the insane asylum while the real culprits, my husband and children, get to walk free? Actually, I should throw our puppy Birdie in there, too. Am I the one who barks at my own tail and pees on the kitchen floor? I think not.

Not sure what Excitement as Officer means, but if it involves a sexy policewoman’s uniform and stilettos, I can’t absolutely rule it out. A girl’s got to keep the home fires burning, if you know what I mean.

Yes to both Fever and Jealousy. Suppression of Menses? Hell yes! Shout out to my IUD! Time of Life? Well, this one depends on context. Is it like, “Woohoo…I’m having the time of my life!” If so, then I’m sure that’s occurred in one 4 am Chicago bar or another when I was in my 20s. If instead, it means “The Change,” then no, not yet, but check back in five to ten years. I’m sure I’ll be plenty deranged by then!

asylum_buildingI think we’ve sufficiently covered Uterine Derangement and Women Trouble. Add those to Hysteria and Menstrual Derangement. Jeez, you’d think getting one’s period was like catching the Black Death back then! Hmm…I wonder what the gender was of the person who wrote up this list. Such a mystery. I guess we’ll never know.

Do you think Shooting of Daughter had to be an actual shooting or would merely contemplating be enough? I’m going to read this literally and say no, I’ve never shot one of my daughters. Not even during a homework meltdown.

Gathering in the Head is one of my favorites. I’ve spent many years in my head, but as far as I know I’ve always been alone in there, so I think I’m OK on this one. And, if Greediness means hiding the good chocolate from your children and eating it after they go to bed, then I’m greedy as hell.

Grief? That’s a topic for another blog post. Let’s just say grief is the only thing on this list that’s actually gotten me close to requiring hospitalization. Speaking of which, today is the 12th anniversary of my mom’s death. I’d like to believe she’d be MommyEnnui’s biggest fan if she were still here. Thanks for the twisted sense of humor, Mom. It’s serving me well.

Hard Study could have gotten me committed to an asylum a few times during law school. Instead, I went with outpatient therapy and tequila. Rumor of Husband Murder? Much like Shooting of Daughter, this one depends on who’s spreading the murderous rumor and whether empty threats count. As for Seduction and Disappointment, I’d refer you back to the same Chicago bar in my 20s. I’m sure this one was checked off back then.

And, finally, Dissipation of Nerves. For this one, I looked up dissipation and found a number of interesting definitions: “breaking up and scattering by dispersion,” “wasting by misuse,” or “a process by which energy is used or lost without accomplishing useful work.” Considering the fact that I spend much of each day gathering in my own head, Dissipation of Nerves could be my middle name!

Well, there you have it. I would have been the ideal candidate for commitment to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane if I were around in the 1800s. The good news is that pretty much every one of my female friends and a good number of the guys would be committed with me, so at least I’d have company. Imagine all the fun we’d have drinking, being lazy, reading novels and just generally living an immoral life. Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

How many reasons would you have had for being locked in the insane asylum?

4 thoughts on “Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key  

  1. Years ago I had a book about the Georgia State Hospital in Milledgeville which listed the inhabitants by number along with their reasons for being committed. My favorite was “refuses to do housework.” I would have been a lifetime resident.

  2. These could be great Magic, the Gathering cards! Show this post to Cole for sure. Gathering in the Head, Hysteria, Fever and Jealousy, and Congestion of the Brain are all candidates for being co-opted by geeky young single guys and older single guys with way too much visible non-plumber ass crack.

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