The Long Way Home


A World Within a World

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When we crossed the West Fork River into Weston, I was in awe by the site of the asylum; it’s so enormous that it literally took my breath away. The castle-like structure is a Kirkbride model, designed with the belief that a patient’s environment was part of the cure for mental illness. Doctors encouraged patients to engage in farming, cooking and cleaning of their ‘home’ – activities not only with the plan of curing, but also creating the world where they lived, sometimes for the rest of their lives. One of the last people admitted there was singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston. You can view his artwork while listening to loops of his music in the patient art gallery. The hospital closed in 1994, not too long ago, and I’m trying to imagine what it was like for someone to roam the hallways or tend to the gardens, to look through the barred windows out to a town that they may never have known.

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