Was His Birth a Clue to the Madness That Would Come?

John Hinckley Jr. Was born in a sanitarium
John Hinckley, Jr. and the two mental hospitals that served as bookends of his life.

John Hinckley, Jr. will be forever remembered as the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC for treatment for narcissistic and schizotypal personality disorder and major depressive disorder.

In an ironic bit of foreshadowing, history records that 25 years earlier John Hinckley, Jr. entered this world in another mental health institution. He was born at Hardy Sanitarium, in Ardmore, Oklahoma. 

Military Genius and Mental Madness

Field Marshal Blucher delusions pregnant with elephant

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher rose to distinction in the Prussian military in his campaigns against Napoleon, earning the rank of Field Marshal.

He was also barking mad.

Blücher was paralyzed by fear for days at a time, perched in his chair, convinced that the French had made the floor too hot for him to stand upon. When he was forced to move from his chair, he danced from spot to spot, trying to stand on only one toe.

He also believed he had been sexually assaulted by a French soldier and as a result, he was pregnant and about to give birth to an elephant. His servants tried to mollify him by assuring him that it could be worse — he could have been raped by a French elephant, but nothing would calm his nerves.

Field Marshal Blücher had many fights with people only he could see, resulting in the destruction of a lot of furniture. When he was convinced that his head had been turned to stone, he pleaded with a servant to smash his head with a hammer.

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Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean Everyone Isn’t Out to Get You

conspiracy theories, cia, conspiracies,

Label someone as a “conspiracy theorist” and you might as well be calling that person a “wacko,” “nut job,” or any other phrase that questions his or her rationality.

Of course, depending on who you talk to, you might find out that this is all part of the biggest conspiracy yet. Continue reading

Hitchcock Afraid? Eggs-actly!

hitch egg copy

Alfred Hitchcock, the master of horror and suspense, who terrified millions with his films Psycho and The Birds, harbored his own fears of something most of us take for granted — eggs.

Suffering from ovophobia — a fear of eggs — he was so revolted by them that he claimed to have never even tasted one in his entire life and he refused to have them anywhere near him.

 

 

Absence of Light? Dude… Totally Uncool!

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Keanu Reeves has confided that he is afraid of the dark.

It probably doesn’t make him feel any better about it, but you might want to know that such a condition is known as nyctophobia.

Keanu, whose name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian, fortunately does not appear to suffer from nomatophobia, which is the fear of names.

 

Is Life So Dear or Peace So Sweet?

Patrick and Sarah Henry
Patrick and Sarah Henry

On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry stood in St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia and addressed the members of the Virginia Convention. He spoke the words that would forever be linked to his name: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

What history often overlooks is just how poignant those words must have been for Patrick and who might have been the inspiration for them.

In 1754 Henry married Sarah Shelton. Their marriage was happy until 1771 when their youngest child was born. Immediately after the birth, Sarah’s mental health suddenly declined. Psychologists today suspect she suffered from puerperal psychosis, a severe form of mental illness that sometimes follows childbirth. At the time, however, she was deemed to be demon-possessed.

As the psychosis grew in severity, Patrick looked at options for medical help. Unfortunately, the best that modern medicine offered at the time was to commit the unfortunate patient to what amounted to be a prison, where horrendous living conditions and no expectation of any improvement made life for the patients a living hell. Conditions were often intentionally made even more horrific under the theory that fear of the sanitarium would motivate people to remain sane. Mental health being what it was in the 18th century, Sarah’s symptoms were written off as demon possession, and she also faced the stigma of being ostracized by her church and the community.

Unwilling to put his wife through this indignity and torment, Patrick opted to care for Sarah at home. He hired trained nurses to be present and care for Sarah, providing her immeasurably better care than otherwise would have been available.

As Sarah’s condition continued to deteriorate, it became necessary to confine her to her own area of their home for her own safety. Eventually that became the cellar, which offered the safest environment for her. At times, as her ravings became more extreme, Patrick had no choice but to restrain her with chains to prevent her from hurting herself.

As the winds of revolution stirred throughout the colonies, Sarah succumbed to her final illness, leaving her grieving husband to mourn her and contemplate the lessons he learned through the experience.

What lessons were learned? One cannot help but imagine Patrick’s thoughts turning to his beloved wife as he spoke on that fateful day: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!”

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