The United States are notorious for committing innocent people into insane asylums. How would you react if you’d wake up in a straitjacket, in a room with soft walls? We’ve compiled a list of 10 people wrongfully deemed crazy that will give you goosebumps. They were committed before they could even speak up and prove their innocence and many of them spent a big chunk of their lives behind the bars of psychiatric wards.
10. Banking conspiracies
Gustl Mollath, a German restorer of vintage cars discovered a huge conspiracy at his wife’s workplace, HypoVereinsbank. He filed a complaint against the bank and its workers (including his wife), but the media didn’t believe him. What is more, the prosecutors used his wife’s allegations about his violent behavior to make him look crazy and commit him to a mental hospital. It wasn’t until a few years later when the truth was finally unearthed, HypoVereinsbank was found to be guilty of money laundering and Mollath was finally released.
9. Corrupt cops
Adrian Schoolcraft, a cop for New York Police Department decided to expose his corrupt colleagues in 2008 by taping their conversations. His superiors did not listen to his concerns, but instead put Schoolcraft under forced monitoring, confiscating his evidence and finally committed him to a psychiatric hospital by stating he was crazy. He was kept there against his will for 6 days and continued his fight against corruption on his release.
8. Soviet schemes
The USSR is notorious for getting rid of its critics by diagnosing them with a mental illness such as schizophrenia. Valery Tarsis suffered this consequence after smuggling a book that was criticizing the USSR out of the country to get it published. He spent 8 months in a psychiatric ward and used his free time to write an autobiographical book on USSR’s dodgy methods of getting rid of its critics by locking them away and quieting them for life.
7. Terrible side effects
John Montin couldn’t possibly fathom what side effects his back pain medication would have on him. Apparently the drugs gave him a temporary psychosis during which he conducted a shoot out with policemen in Nebraska after he tried to take ownership of a random house, claiming it belonged to his family. Based on this, he was considered insane and put away for 20 years before he was reevaluated and found to be sane. He sued the hospital for 33 million dollars and is still waiting for the case to be settled.
Clennon Washington King Jr was an African American history professor at Alcorn State University and was an avid anti-segregation activist. After trying to enroll one of his children in an all white school and after failing to enroll himself into the University of Mississippi, he was committed to a psychiatric ward where he stayed for 12 days. This did not curve his appetite for justice, but instead led him to run for presidency in 1960, becoming the first black presidential candidate in the history of the United States.
5. Hidden cameras
A young Nigerian female emigrant was studying at Brooklyn College when she started to suspect her landlady was filming her and posting the images on the internet. She expressed her suspicions to the college’s psychiatrist who did not believe her, although she had discovered a hidden camera in her bedroom. As a consequence, she was committed in a mental hospital for 2 weeks and wasn’t allowed to sit her exams. She won a lawsuit against the hospital and received 110,000$.
4. Chinese schemes
The Republic of China took a similar approach to its critics as USSR. Xu Lindong tried to help out a neighbor to get ownership of some land. Lindong’s insistent actions attracted the government’s dissatisfaction, he was considered insane and was locked away. He spent 6 and a half years in a psychiatric ward and was released thank to his journalist brother who exposed the government’s sick plot.
3. Homosexuality as a mental illness
Back in the 20th century you could have been committed if you were lazy, if you had imaginary troubles or if you were gay. The latter happened in 1991 when, after coming out as gay, Lyn Duff, aged 14, suffered the consequences of a flawed American system which put her in a teen psychiatric ward. In an attempt to “cure her into straightness”, she had talks with Mormon missionaries and conversation therapy. Duff spent over 4 months in the hospital, before escaping. Her mother lost her parental rights on Lyn and the girl was adopted by a lesbian couple.
2. No atheists for Nigeria
Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian atheist, was deemed crazy after he stated he is renouncing the Muslim religion. His family believed him to be insane and they managed to convince a doctor to commit him to a mental hospital. After being held in the psychiatric institution for 18 days against his will, he was helped by a humanist charity to regain his freedom. After his release he started receiving death threats and was forced to go into hiding.
1. 19th century hygiene
You’d think it’s only reasonable for doctors to wash their hands before handling patients, but 19th century medical staff begged to differ. Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis was the first to hint at the necessary hygienic gesture of washing one’s hands and received a great many funny looks. As a consequence, he was committed in an asylum where he died after being the victim of the abusive staff.