Body Bagged, 4-pointed, Secluded and Tortured — All in the name of Treatment?



The above is are just some bruises of many I received during my month-long course of “psychiatric treatment” at the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, on the unit called Donnelly 2 South. In  Connecticut, the Institute of Living, first known as the Retreat, and once quite famous as a posh sanatarium for the rich and famous though this is no longer true, was first made famous by  Clifford Beers, I believe, who wrote about similiar torture he underwent there just a hundred years ago in the book, A Mind That Found itself.

After burning my face with cigars and cigarettes, I spent the last month in Connecticut’s well-known Institute of Living (yeah the dangerous 6th month was JANUARY not February but nobody thought to check my math) being beaten up and trussed like a pig in four-point restraints almost daily for many many hours. Why did they deal me this sort of treatment? Why? Because “You do not follow directions”.


I DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS so they beat me up and tied me, shackled me with leather and metal cuffs  to a bed for dozens upon dozens of hours.! Get that? I was disobedient, so they shackled me to a bed as an excuse for treatment!


After this experience, I LOST ALL FAITH in the ability of any institution to do anyone any good who has a mental illness or sickness of the mind, or any emotional disorder or whatever you wish to call it. I GIVE UP! I will kill myself if anyone ever tries to send me back to such a cesspit of a place. I do not care if it is appointed like the Taj Mahal. NO ONE who works there is uncontaminated by the evil infecting such places and they are ALL EVIL EVERY SINGLE ONE. I have NEVER been to a hospital where the people are kind and well meaning and where the treatment is actually kind and decent. Once in a  while a single person, such as the Middlesex Hospital occupational therapist  Christobelle Payne, may stand out in memory as being a rare human being of warmth and dignity and  caring, but otherwise, they all to a one fail the test of being decent human specimens and all fail royally to be even normally humanly responsive to suffering persons. They are in it for the money and a cushy job, and don’t you forget it if you go into a psycho hospital, DO not expect to get well there. Expect PILLS, and directions (ie ORDERS) that you HAVE To follow or ELSE.


Get out of there as quickly as possible, because your life depends on it. I am serious. DO NOT LINGER expecting care and treatment or to feel better no matter how helpful it might want to seem.


Furthermore. if you are a young person, do not listen to the sweet seductive advice that some may give you that you woul do well to go for “disability” and social security payments. THAT Is a load of total crapola and the worst thing anyone could tell anyone under the age of 50. I am so angry and broken at the moment that I cannot speak more. But if I can later on, I will say more to explain. At the moment, I have to attend to too many PHYSICAL bruises and to find a way back to sanity on my own, havin been driven to the brink of near extinction by one of the best known hospitals in this state. At the moment I am both rigid with rage and so confused and broken that I scarcely know how to continue, or whether I even want to. Why bother? Why bother? How can people be such  monsters, and in such monstrously powerful places and ways. I hurt so deeply and feel I will never trust an single person ever again when they say, Come let us help you. You need our help.  YOUR help? Like being raped, I need your F—ing help!


GO jump in a lake of snot is what I should say to all of you so called helpers. I’d rather die. Go F— yourself.

17 thoughts on “Body Bagged, 4-pointed, Secluded and Tortured — All in the name of Treatment?”

  1. They just opened or approved Soteria Vermont here…but it is only for first episodes…early in illness people. Not for me, of course. I’m considered one step away from dementia…you know…? Get the rocking chair geri chair and the restraints are justified yet again because of course a 62 year old with schizophrenia cannot possibly know what is good for her!



    I can see why you say that but I hope you’re wrong. I still hold high hopes for Soteria style treatment models, despite their current unfashionability.

    BTW, in 2002 a friend of mine was kept in Sydney’s St Vincents Hospital in four point restraints and bombed to the eyeballs on overdoses of olanzapine while he was in the process of dying of AIDS.


    Because he was prone to wandering harmlessly around the wards at night and trying to nick out for a smoke despite being told to stay in his room.


  3. Hope your experience was better than mine…what unit were you on? Did you feel better after being there? As you could tell from my entry, i was pretty blown away… I did have amuch better experience at yale for the following three weeks however. They are completely patient-centered and have a philosophy of non-coercion and compassion. And they do not even have a side room or a seclusion room to use at all. They do not believe in restraints or seclusion for anyone.


  4. Hey Pam, I’m so sorry for your experience. I was in the IOL for almost 2 months this past fall/winter. I did not have the same experience as you did as far as the physical abuse but I agree that no one should go expecting any kind of actual help. It’s a holding cell until they decide you’re medicated enough to go back out into society. One of my doctors actually fell asleep during our meeting. The IOL is well-known for its research, but the patient care is atrocious.


  5. Pam,
    I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2005. I was very confused, could not organize my thoughts, had memory problems and had hallucinations. I was 43 and was told to apply for SSI disability. I have been on SSI ever since. Why do you say it is such a bad thing for anybody under 50? I am asking, because I am worried about what mistake I might have made and how it will affect me. If you can, please post a wagblog explaining what you mean. I would really appreciate it. Thank you.


  6. You have my sympathy. None of what you have said comes to me as any kind of surprise.I have not experienced anything other than chemical abuse (so called medicaments) which reduced me to a human wreck.I have spent almost the greater part of my adult life in the asylums (there can be no other description of these places)


  7. Dear michelle, supposedly there is a site where you can post plans and dreams and ask for fundraising support… Maybe i should look into what that site is and we should work towards that dream Wholeway Home! Maybe im just crazy… Anyhow, i actually wrote a poem tonight, so i am feeling a little calmer. Dunno what possessed me. Manic frenzy maybe? I havent actually written a new poem since my fathers death last year, not even those that ive posted since then have been new… So while i cannot sleep because of all the terrible memories that possess me, at least i have put a bit of it to use.

    Thanks for your support and your comments as always so helpful. Yours,



  8. Hi Pam, I didn’t know you had been in a hospital again. Gosh, I am so sorry you were abused.

    Much of what you say is how I feel about psychiatry. I once had confidence, but not anymore, and this is terribly disturbing. I see a psychiatric NP, and she’s cool, but she still has that element of… I don’t know what to call it. Example: I communicated to her that I was tired of being a full-time caregiver, without respite, and she suggested I go for a stay at the “hospital,” meaning the psyche ward. What other kind of hospital, right? Anyway, I told her it was an absurd idea. Being tired (and I do have CFS/Fibromyalgia) as a caregiver without respite is NOT a mental illness. It is not a reason to check yourself into the psyche ward. I would be treated or rather, mistreated, just like everyone else is, even if you do obey.

    It is my experience that in mental healthcare (at least the way it is today), we are all dehumanized and there is a medication for any human ailment.

    I too have the dream of a place to go to in crisis, and also a place for folks to call home. A healing house; a holistic recovery and rehabilitation house. Sort of like a halfway house but for people experiencing and/or living with ‘mental illness.’

    You are so right. Only the rich can afford the care and it is awful for me, knowing there is good care for the rich, but the poor people must rely on psychiatric medications, and always, the threat of being committed. It is such a heart break.

    Please don’t give up and 60 doesn’t sound old coming from you. I feel too old too, for my dream to come true. What if we all (us like-minded folks) got together and raised funds to start a healing/recovery/living place? Wouldn’t that be great?

    I wish you so much healing. I’m sorry you were mistreated. That is so wrong!!!

    You are a wise woman, and have so much to offer this world. Please keep writing and sharing. Please take good care of yourself.

    With extra big HUGS,
    your friend,


  9. I’m sending you a BIG HUG ((((((((((PAM)))))))))).

    My heart is aching over what you’ve been through. I’m talking about all of it, not just the hospital and the treatment you endured there, but the brokenness that brought you to that place, the terrible inner pain that drove you to burn yourself. And your confusion, the memory gaps, everything you have endured is all so unspeakably horrible.

    We are like prisoners in our own minds and bodies, we cannot escape ourselves. When our minds won’t function right, life becomes worse than a horrible nightmare. When we need calming and compassion and a safe place to rest and recover, but there is no such place, and everywhere we turn there is only more trauma… Oh Pam, I don’t know how to put my feelings and throughts into words.


  10. Dear Donna,

    Psych ICUs are “horrorshows” in the worst sense of the word. If you do not run the risk of overt suicide there through neglect, you run the risk, as you suggest, of murder. As I wrote in one earlier blog piece, at the Hartford Hospital’s Purple Pod — the psychiatric section of the Emergency Department — I was deliberately choked into submission while being injected with a three drug cocktail they later wrote up as two drugs, because one drug was rescinded in a later order, but too late not to have already been given. During the forced IM injection, two security guards, two guards, forget that they were “merely security detail personnel”, compressed my neck while others held my body down in such a way that I could not breath or resist while a nurse literally sat on my upper body and injected me. I tried to tell her I could not breath, and burbled the words, but she only discounted my terror with the tossed off dismissal, “You’re fine.” THe ONLY thing I could do, in my panic, was to go limp in the desperate effort to “Play dead” so that they would appear to have won the battle as quickly as possible and get off me before I actually did die. THank god in her heaven, this strategy worked. As soon as the RN finished injecting her three syringes, She leapt off the gurney and told everyone to clear the room. THe guards who were strangling me were the last too get off me and go, but they had their orders and finally had to do so. I was so terrorized by this time that I did not even dare cry, let alone cry out or cry for help. THe only time I dared to tell what happened was when I was finally admitted against my will to The Institute of Living across the street, where it was uniformly regarded as paranoid and delusional…In fact, every single word that came out of my mouth from the moment I entered the PURPLE POD, EVEN THE fact that I was an author of a rather well-known memoir about schizophrenia, was discounted as “delusional, grandiose, disorganized, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda….” I think that had I told them my full name was actually four names (True!) they would have called that delusional as well.

    Anyhow, thank you for your comment on psych ICUs and your own experience. I am glad to hear that that ICU and hospital was closed down as it rightly should have been, but it worries me — WHY?????? — when so many “beds” are closed. Why ? Because II still think people need a place to go, just not a hospital place…you know what I mean? I think in crisis people should NOT be left alone to commit suicide or such horrific acts as I did to my face….But the notion that only sadistic places like hospitals exist to discipline and bully people into submission exist to “help” in crisis just horrifies me. What happened to places like Soteria House and such? I wish to god there were only someplace like that near me, or that I could AFFORD…because they exist but only for the independently wealthy which is criminal…truly criminal. The wealthy can afford everything, and anything, and probably have never even seen the inside of an abusive Psych ICU…

    Anyhow, we are having a blizzard here today and I have to leave to see Dr C in a short time, if I can get there. I really want to see her, need to talk to her about all that happened…She is NOT your regular abusive shrink…But if the snow keeps up I won’t even get to drive the short distance to her office. We could talk on the phone but it is not the same. Thank you for letting me unload all this garbage here, Donna, and all of you. II appreciate it. It will take some time too get over this…SO THANK YOU for your comforting words of shared experience and support. All my love,



  11. dear Kate, alas, I never did get your reply. I wondered about that and think perhaps you sent it to my google address which I dont check and rarely get any longer> I will check it but maybe it got waylaid somewhere else. I thank you so much for your lovely reply. I cannot think about what I deserve or do not deserve these days. I feel so awful…they said I deserved everything I got, as I wrote to Lady Q. Dr Schwartz included. I worry, though because I do not remember everything I did or even all that happened, except that at one point after a week of the first doctor taking me off the antidepressant cold turkey, saying, You don’t really need this med do you, he ….no, this is what happened. He asked me one day, about 9 days into my stay, “Will you give me two weeks? Two weeks and I will fix you up like new” Sounded suspicious, but frankly, the one good stay I had had at Natchaug Hospital in Willimantic CT, Dr Teodora Andrei there said she wasn’t going to change any of my meds just let me rest and recuperate and you know what? In three weeks, I recovered without any change in meds OR torture of any kind…THey never restrained or secluded or body bagged or even so much as touched me…they simply talked to me and counseled me in a kind and caring way and lo and behold, I GOT BETTER. TIme passed and the crisis passed, they kept me safe and in the necessary three weeks it always takes for me to recover I did, without violence to either my body or my spirit. Needless to say, they kept my soul intact. That was the one time I was at Natchaug under Dr Teodora Andrei’s care, it was my second stay there when the director of Nursing there at the time was Sharon Hinton, APRN (and probably PHD in nursing as well). Sharon Hinton was wise enough to know that I need Dr Andrei’s care and hand’s off attention in terms of medication changes and had enough influence to see that I was assigned to her.

    But I am getting off the subject of Hartford Hospital’s sadistic Institute of Living’s “treatment” of the past four weeks, treatment that started out surprisingly appropriate, considering that I had a well-written Psychiatric Advanced Directive and explicit directions on How to Deal with Pam in Crisis Situations . Argh, I am going on too long and and some of this belongs in a blog entry so I will put it there. But I just wanted you and Lady Quixote to know how terribly much I appreciate your support and loving kindness in every sense of those words. I deeply depend on your comments and the knowledge that you are out there in the blogosphere, reading my words and caring what I am going through.

    One word I wanted to add was about belonging to an artistic community. I have two dreams that I had once hoped to have come true, that are rapidly failing as I age past 60. One, not quite dead yet, but dying, is to open a WHOLE WAY HOUSE or WHOLE WAY HOME for people like me who need NOT a half-way-house too live in for a shorter amount of time, but a HOME for LIVING where people can come to stay where they can rely on a place to live in whether or not they are hospitalized intermittently. Preferably it would be staffed in such a way that hospitals would be completely unnecessary since it would BE a community that could care for its own members…THat is a dream I will flesh out better in a blog entry. But as I said, since I have no way to fund it, the dream is fading… THe other dream also fading for lack of feasibility is moving to Northampton Massachusetts, which ideally would be combined with dream #1….

    But enough for now.

    Thank you Kate, and all my love. You can email me at pamwagg at yahoo dot com or at my pamwagg at cox dot net account.


  12. Pam, there are no words adequate to convey my sense of outrage at how you’ve been treated. You were hospitalized for being a danger to yourself, no doubt, and then the hospital was where you encountered the insidious “care” of professionally dangerous people (PDP), those to whom your care was entrusted. I have been at such places; although never beaten physically, these PDP hurled f-bombs at me liberally, isolated me for throwing my plastic eating utensils in the trash (inferring I would try to kill myself with them) and later refused to show me proof that I had agreed to ECT treatments.

    I have been in 7 different psychiatric hospitals. The worst (psych ICU’s) medicated me into mindless silence in solitary confinement. The best was simply indifferent to the needs of all its patients. Indifference, sadly enough, was better. I have totalled 18 admissions. The last time, they didn’t have a bed yet so I waited 6 hours in a quarantine room of the ER. They wouldn’t allow me call my mother and let her know where I was (she was worried sick) and refused to call her on my behalf. So I finally pleaded to go to the bathroom. They left me unguarded for a moment and I changed back into my clothes and walked out. I drove home in a haloperidol haze. Soon after, they called my mother, with whom I lived, and said they would agree not to report me to the police (as a “dangerous person”) if she would bring me back to the hospital. My mom called my psychiatrist, whom the hospital had not bothered to contact, and he said he would call the hospital and straighten them out. I never heard anymore, nor have I ever been back. Strangely enough (or perhaps not so strangely) the psychiatric ward of this hospital was closed down about a year ago. Good riddance!

    The psych ICU’s are for the worst of the worst. I’ve been in a variety of those. That’s where the nurses/docs are afraid of violent and uncontrolled patients so they maintain their distance behind locked doors and heavy glass “booths” from which they nominally keep an eye on things. That’s where any rules are subject to the whims of the staff. When that’s the case, watch out — anything can happen! A man died on the ward last time I was hospitalized. The staff said his body “just gave out from so many suicide attempts.” You have to wonder.

    Please keep us updated on your condition and your fight for patients to retain their rights and their dignity…and their lives…during inpatient treatment.


  13. Dear Dear Lady Q,

    Thank you so much for your oh so feeling replies. I am in a lot of pain after returning from that hell hole and it helps to know that people are out there reading my writing. It was hard to sleep last night, wondering what I did wrong, why I deserved such treatment from people who were there supposed to “help me”…I remember them saying how I “exposed myself” and urinated on floor, and how I bit them and all that, and I keep wondering what on earth they thought brought in all on or whether they simply thought it was “just me!” “Exposing myself!” Yes I stripped naked, and I peed on the floor, but only after they tortured me and body bagged me and racked me on a bed in shackled for hours. Just what did they believe they were doing to me?! My god in heaven, do you know that the chief of the hospital was actually on the floor, looking for me to see my art when I was “missing” from the seclusion room, and when he found me said, Miss Wagner, May I see your art? But when I said, sure, but do you know that I am supposed to be in seclusion and my art is locked in the sharps closet? ” He then said, well then I won’t interfere…THen they came for me and I screamed for him to help me and he said, something like let them do what they have to do, while they were wrappping me in what they called a “safety suit” which is really a strait jacket like body bag to bring me back to the seclusion room to four point me after three injections IM medication ass punishment. He yelled across the entire day room, “DOn’t think I am going to interfere with your treatment down here!” I screamed HELP ME! but no one did anything but clear the room of other patients “so no one would be upset by what was happening…” THis doctor, by the way, was Dr Harold Schwartz, the head of the entire Hartford Hospital system BY the way, my friend MEH is sitting here with me and she just made hte comment, well he is a toad, just a toad for doing that.


  14. Kate, I agree completely with what you said, especially this: “As I get older, I truly and deeply believe that the human species is mentally ill and unfortunately often the people who seek powerful positions are more ill than the general population.” Yes. I believe you are exactly right.


  15. I am so very, very sorry for the way you have been treated repeatedly in so called hospitals. As I get older, I truly and deeply believe that the human species is mentally ill and unfortunately often the people who seek powerful positions are more ill than the general population. Over the years I have always been saddened when I heard that you were back in one hospital or another. It is not where you belong. You belong in a thriving, artistic community with an active and vital mental health center where people love and care for each other and where you are encouraged to be the exceptionally honest, intelligent, creative and sensitive person you are and have always been.

    Pam, I sent an email to you after you posted a lovely comment on my blog, but I don’t know if I sent it to the right address because I never heard back from you. Oh, please do write to me! I am thinking of you.

    Love, Kate


  16. OH Pam, oh my God I am crying, I am screaming on the inside, screaming, oh my God I am so horrified that this was done to you. I wish I didn’t live 2,000 miles away. Oh my God. there is no excuse no reason nothing you could have done or said or failed to do that would give anyone the right to hurt you like this.


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