Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thoughts for a Rainy Sunday

Outside my study window, the rain is coming down in a steady stream, and the latest meteorological prognostication (how 'bout them big words, eh?) says it will continue to do so pretty much through the coming week. This is, of course, good news for my lawn and garden, and bad news for people living in low-lying areas. Yes, we need the rain ... but not necessarily all at once, thank you, Mother Nature.

I learned today that on this date in in 1813 a group of Quakers founded the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason - the first private mental health hospital in the United States. The Quakers built the institution, which still exists today as Friends Hospital, on a 52-acre farm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that they purchased for about $7,000. At the time that Friends Hospital was founded, mental disorders were not well understood, and were usually treated as criminal behavior rather than as a treatable illnesses. The Quakers wanted to institute a new type of care for the mentally ill, who up to that time were often beaten and abused, or locked away in isolation for much of their lives. They described their new philosophy of care this way:

"To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery."

This is an admirable goal, and the Quakers deserve our admiration and respect for taking on the care of some of the least-understood and most troubled members of our society. And although it is surely flippant to make the observation, and I mean no disrespect to the staff of the Friends Hospital, I hope they have plenty of room to accommodate the 535 members of Congress who appear to have been "deprived of the use of their reason."

Today is also the anniversary of the birth in 1856 of L. (for Lyman) Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. Mr Baum loved to tell fairy tales to children, and one day he decided to set down in writing his tall tale of the fabulous adventures of young Dorothy in the magical land of Oz.

He wrote:

"No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."

And a dreary, rainy day is a good day to stay home and dry.

More thoughts tomorrow.



allenwoodhaven said...

Haivng spent my career in the mental health field, I found this to be a very interesting post. The Quakers, it seems, have always been both compassionate and ahead of the times.

And not to worry, I take no offense at the comment about Congress having lost their reason; they have!

KathyA said...

Wasn't too bad a day at daughter's -- only one deluge...

Congress would tax (no pun intended, but certainly appreciated!!) the patience of even the dear, peace-loving Quakers.