My brother Mike went away to Willowbrook, a large mental institution (6000 residents) on Staten Island in New York State, USA. If you search for ‘Willowbrook’ and ‘atrocities’ on the internet, you will get more than 45,000 hits. The horrors were exposed in 1972 after which, New York State took actions that addressed the conditions. Of all incidents of abuse that happened, the most egregious, in my opinion, was the deliberate infecting of the mentally ill patients in one ward, with hepatitis.
Most parents had no idea what was happening at Willowbrook, except for the occasional phone call of one incident of harm or another. One of those called announced that Mike got his teeth knocked out (by another resident – of course). Just as my parents had just an inkling of the poor conditions, they had little choice. There were very few options to take care of the severely mentally ill in the early 1960s. Mike was not forgotten though. We visited him quite frequently.
New York State shut down Willowbrook, but this took many years. Mike was eventually placed in a group home in the late 1980s.
I think I took this shot of Dad bringing Mike out of his building, on one of our visits.