Mary Cecil voluntarily committed herself to an institution in the early 1950s. This account was published in its entirety in Encounter, in 1956. Again, the article is excerpted from the book “The Inner World of Mental Illness”.
After a fortnight in a sort of reception ward in the mental hospital, I complained to the doctor that nothing was being done. They didn’t appear to appreciate the urgency of the position. There was I, helpless in the hands of a fiend from Hell and anything might happen any minute. (Ms. Cecil believes that a hallucinated voice is the Devil, sent to harass her.) The Hospital ambled through its days, sweeping us off to Occupational Therapy or out to grass, as the mood took it. One might be suddenly singled out and, eager with hope, be subjected to a blood test or some flippancy like that.
“Ah, but we’re doing so much for you,” the doctor said earnestly…”In fact,” the doctor continued fatly, “we’re going to give you some injections. You’ll be moved to another ward.”
I’d learned already that it was a waste of time asking questions. Psychiatrists thrive on their air of mystery. Anyway, the fact of strange surroundings was enough. In this ward there had been some outbursts from explosive patients. …I noticed that the more obstreperous patients were dragged off, protesting violently, to some outer dungeon spoken of in whispers as the Villa. I added that to my fears and redoubled my attempts to appear totally harmless.
She discusses insulin treatment she received after being transferred to the next ward- a treatment used commonly at that time.
After tea I saw a lady doctor who said I was to have some injections. I saw myself ablaze with vitamins in next to no time. At bedtime the men disappeared into one dormitory and we women into another, so that was all right. Just as I was getting into bed I noticed a sheet marked the Villa. There was a curious taste in my mouth, had I been tricked into the place? Heart thudding, I gazed out the window and saw a small building by itself. “That’s the Villa,” breathed the woman in the next bed.