By Sandy Bauers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 23, 2019
In 1946, Life magazine published an exposé on mental hospitals, focusing on the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry. The title: “Bedlam 1946.”
That dreadful facility, like so many others, eventually closed. A good thing? Not completely, according to Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, who maintains that people simply went from one horrific situation to another, from the grossly inadequate institutions to the dangerous streets. In neither case is psychiatric care even close to sufficient.
Rosenberg, who grew up in Philadelphia, is a Manhattan psychiatrist and a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He teaches at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He’s also a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and now, an author. His book, Bedlam: An Intimate Journey Into America’s Mental Health Crisis, was published this month. The result of a seven-year investigation into a system that has failed the one in five Americans who experience mental illness, it includes harrowing patient tales and prescriptions for change.