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Schrödinger's Horse

There are a lot of former sanatoriums in the United States that upon the distribution of antibiotics, closed as TB treatment centers and became health facilities. Because these places had numerous rooms, they became prime real estate to care for mentally and physically disabled adults. In the mid-1900's, the turn over rate of sanatoriums into custodial institutions for adults was HIGH.

Let's do this less-than-academically. Like, take it down to comfy couch roaring fireplace cheese and wine level, because I want to really level with you.

Large, institutional-style sanatoriums have a history in the US that solidly spans about a century and a half, give or take. Tuberculosis was always around, but the idea of intentionally separated care for those sick with just that disease, became a thing after the country had a few states in place before the North and the South duked it out, and then boomed post-Civil War, (because it was quarantining these TB havers away from healthy society, after all), until the creation of antibiotics. The treatments for TB at the time were, to put it less crude, rudimentary, but those treatments called for institutionalized locations that looked like, to be most crude, fucking castles, bro. Have you seen Waverly? Kim, there's people that are dying. We needed big hospitals for TB.

Soooo... ::sips too much wine::

The history that followed after those sanatoriums took place within the same exact buildings and on the same exact properties. So, using really simple logic I probably learned from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, if ghosts are the conscious or unconscious entities of the formerly living, then ghosts from any time in a location's history could potentially be present. There's no way to separate mid-18 to 1900's TB victim ghosts from disabled, post-1940's adult ghosts. They're all potentially there in one place, right?

When investigators go to places named sanatoriums, named so likely because their most recently used name is not as appealing, enticing or curiosity-piquing as "sanatorium", we're investigating for anything. Anything means anyone. (Ghost logic.) So we can't separate or control in any way, who or what we interact with in these spaces. We could be directly interacting with people who we are (mostly) not: a marginalized and often dehumanized community who've been forced into custodial style institutions for the last, oh, all of the country's history.

Guys. Is this okay? Are we sure we're not being the most ableist of asshole-y ableists when investigating former mental and physical healthcare facilities?

I know, I know. Intentions. Well, that's great, most of us able-bodied humans aren't trying to be or being gross ableists on the regular, we're mostly very distant from that community, I'd guess. I'm guessing that simply by the fact that I've never had or been diagnosed with any mental or physical disability in my life, neither have any of my family. (Do I take that for granted? You bet. Like every one of us.) My 'general relation' to the disabled community is very distant. So while it's great that we can assume most investigators aren't dicks, that still doesn't really excuse going into and being in these places for thrills, does it? Like, dick or no dick, you're still looking for a scare in a former mental health facility. What I'm saying is, intentions don't really hold a lot of water for me as an excuse to go ghost hunting at these places.

I haven't seen much said about this at all on the interwebs, at least the circles of strange interwebs where I roam, anyway. I don't have a massive following, so I know the circle's pretty small, but still. It's very rarely pointed out that some of the places investigators are seeking the paranormal might be far more problematic than we've examined, is all.

Debbie Downer here to shit on your fun jolly good time at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (how is that name okay?), Pennhurst Asylum, Rolling Hills Asylum, Cresson State Sanatorium, Waverly Hills Sanatorium (yep even big baddie there, the ONE), Indiana State Sanatorium (stings extra hard there), Wildwood Sanatorium, Letchworth Village, etc etc I've left out like 23o847983472#(*8792 of them.

Sanatoriums and their latter use as mental and physical disability healthcare hospitals are just... feeling pretty off to me lately as far as poking around for the unknown inside them. Knowing how varied the methods for investigating can be between the literal thousands of people who visit these places on the daily....and nightly, makes me feel like it's already a very lost cause, and I write this knowing a previous blog of mine was about how great our time at ISS was. I'm aware! And I can't defend it no matter how much the owners of ISS love and respect the place, because the actions of one don't represent the whole here. That's impossible - each location is a different place owned by different people, and they have their own agendas.

The *only* shit defense with Indiana State Sanatorium we have is that we thought, fully and truthfully, that we were showing up to a former TB hospital that was only ever a TB hospital. It's a shit defense because we are also fully aware that not Googling ISS beforehand is on us. Diiiiidn't even watch another creator's videos besides one that didn't show the outside much, because we wanted to be *fresh and sparkly pure* for investigating. Well. Wasn't that stupid? Yes it was. The answer is a hard yes.

::finishes wine and cheese::

Or, OR - I'm being overdramatic. The thing is, I don't know. I haven't had a conversation about this with anyone outside of Ryan and briefly with two fellow investigators in the past 6 months. So I have no idea what the depth is here, or if I have a horse in this race or not. But, if the race is every investigator going into every haunted place possible, I think I'm at least in the stands wondering what the fuck's going on.

Schrödinger's horse.

Oh and as far as the mainstream paranormal? The pop culture paranormal on TV? This is a discussion I honestly believe will never be had in those spaces.

I'm not sure if this blog needs a "thanks for reading" or an "I'm sorry",

PS: If you've read my article in The Feminine Macabre Volume II, you'll know I wrote about why female and female-identifying humans might have a distinct and personal, even metaphysical pull to see and experience these types of allegedly haunted former sanatoriums and asylum institutions in person. I still stand by that. Take a tour, walk through, look at the museums or displays (if they exist). I don't know if I stand by an overnight investigation the same way as a daytime tour and educationally-driven visits though.


I'm Amy L. Bennett, a writer, multimedia artist, recovering archaeologist and YouTuber from Upstate, New York. I've been invested in all things strange and unusual since my dad gave me the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy when I was way too young. Along with my fiancé, Ryan, we've explored countless haunted locations in the US and abroad in search of the Weird.
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