1896 - 1986
Place of birth: Paris, France
Date of Willard admission: 1939
Length of stay: 47 years
A Promising Future
Mlle. Madeline #22040 was born to a well-to-do family in Paris and graduated from the Sorbonne. As a young woman, she journeyed throughout Europe and the United States, and many of her travel photographs were found in her trunk. After World War I, Madeline left France permanently for New York, where she landed a good job as a secretary at the French mission on war debts. During the 1920s, she taught French literature at private girls' schools in Boston, Dallas, New Hampshire, and New York. She was an intellectual; her trunk contained books on philosophy, literature, history, and music. In New York, she took advanced studies at Columbia University and Hunter College.
Madeline became increasingly drawn to the world of the occult, which seemed to alienate friends, co-workers, and employers. According to her file, her employers considered her "odd, tactless, and domineering." Unable to find steady work during the Depression, Madeline was referred to the Emergency Work Bureau. They found her unemployable, and referred her for outpatient mental health treatment; this led to her 1931 admission to the psychiatric unit at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
Resistance to Hospitalization
A constant refusal to submit defines Mlle. Madeline's hospital experience. She clearly assumed that her voluntary admission to Bellevue would be temporary, and never expected to be shipped off to Willard in 1939 after passing through Central Islip and Kings Park State Hospitals on Long Island. While at Central Islip, Madeline fiercely stated, "I want out of here immediately. I think it is an outrage to be brought here." In 1965, she was still demanding her release. Records indicate that she told a staff member, "I don't like this hospital. I resent being detained and wasting my time."
Madeline was given antipsychotic drugs in the mid-1950s. She developed what later came to be known as tardive dyskinesia (TD), a debilitating movement disorder caused by the drugs. In 1970, her file states that she had "fidgety movements, rigid stances, facial grimaces," which they did not ascribe to the medications. Instead, they prescribed "attitude therapy" to get her to stop making facial grimaces. At the age of 79, Mlle. Madeline #22040 was sent to a private board and care facility near the hospital. She died in October 1986 in Seneca County at the age of 90. Her burial place is unknown.