As a journalist penetrated in a psychiatric hospital

The police picks up a frightened and confused Nellie bly in 1887 in new York. Soon she appears before the judge, her examined by several doctors. Doubt among experts there: she’s a loony, it is placed in a special facility. While Nellie bly everything goes according to plan.

The noise of keys typewriters — the only one that hears Nellie bly (Nellie Bly) when Thursday, 22 September 1887, crosses the editorial office of the New York World. She knocks on the door of the chief editor.

23-year-old girl a few months roamed the streets of new York trying to find work as a journalist, but none the door of the metropolis to ambitious girl from Pittsburgh and will not be revealed.

To get your hands dirty with ink in the struggle for serious reporting for Newspapers — the lot of men.

But when Nellie bly comes into the office of John Cockerill (John Cockerills), she soon realizes that maybe luck’ll turn around to face her.

Editor-with interest, listening to suggestions Ms. blye, although the idea is to send her to Europe so that she alone could make the journey across the Atlantic in the cabin of the lowest class and tell about their experiences of the emigrant on the way to the U.S., he is forced to reject.

But the courage of a young woman and her thirst for adventure make Cockerill to grab a different idea about which he was thinking along with the owner of the newspaper, with rich imagination Joseph Pulitzer: bly should try to pretend to be crazy so she could be put in a psychiatric hospital (New York City Lunatic Asylum) on the island of Blackwell. Rumor has it that the conditions of detention there — just awful.

Miss bly have to infiltrate in a madhouse

“Only write what I see, anything including not adding anything. Scold and praise in cases when you find it appropriate, and always remember the truth” — is heard from under the thick moustache covering the upper lip Cockerill and hide the mouth.

“Really, I’m a little confused by the fact that you smile all the time,” he continues.

“Not anymore”, chirps bly, which just thrilled that she finally has entrusted an important task for a large newspaper.

However, it is clear that in order to even penetrate the walls of the closed institutions, will need all her acting abilities
“Try. If you do, then everything will just love it” — enthusiastically assures her Cockerill who feels that the New York World — on the threshold of one of the most sensational stories.
Nellie bly was never afraid of difficulties. The young woman knows that the job is on the island of Blackwell will finally be able to celebrate it in the world of Newspapers.

However hopeful the journalist knows that as soon as it’s over on the island, it will have to be isolated, that it will be there very vulnerable and that she would have to be among the mentally ill women.

So she allows herself to Express some concerns.

“And how do you me take me if I got inside?” she asks Cockerill, just a little nervously.

“Don’t know” replies the editor.

The job starts at the shelter

In the evening of the next day Nellie bly, strolling through the windswept streets of Manhattan, dressed in your most boring clothes. According to her, it looks like the “poor unfortunate girl”.

Hours when she learned to walk wide-eyed, staring at the passers-by to look insane.

While she wanders the sidewalks of Second Avenue, Bligh recalled stories about the ghosts in order that others thought she was scared about something. She had never met people who are not okay with the psyche.

When she gently knocks on the door of a temporary shelter for women, most of all, she hopes that will be able to hold you in the shelter around your finger and make them believe that she is absolutely crazy.

“Nellie brown” — is bly, when a woman from the orphanage opens the door.

She meets Mrs. Stanard, assistant to the managing shelter. During the evening the hostess drew attention to the fact that young Ms. brown is something wrong.

“What is troubling you? You have some grief or some other problems?” — asks Stanard.

Bly immediately grabs the opportunity to talk about his fragile soul and that she is deathly afraid of all who live in the house.

The fact that she knows that mental patients are often skeptical of strangers, and trying to act that way to seem more convincing.

The rest of the evening Nellie bly continues the game behaves like a maniac, throwing the other women frightened and desperate views.

As it comes time to go to bed, many of the other inmates of the shelter are starting to Express concern about the new girl.

“I’m scared to be here when the house is crazy,” says one, while another declares that “Nelly we here till morning I’ll kill you all”.

The fate of Bligh decided by the judge

Night one of the inmates of the orphanage wakes up from a nightmare: it seems that Nellie brown stabbed her with a knife.

So the next morning Mrs. Stanard sends over two cops, and then hold them in Nellie.

“If she’s not coming by herself, quietly and calmly, I force drag,” says one of the officers, bringing Mrs. brown on the street.

Behind them a tail followed by the boys, shouting something after this obviously crazy woman.

And Mrs. Stanard also reluctantly walks to the building nearest the court where she has to explain to the judge what happened to the servants of the law could determine the fate of a young woman.

Nelly still pretend to be confused and scared — judge it, in particular, said that he arrived from Cuba.

“You poor thing. Well dressed, handsome, a real lady. Her flawless English, I bet she’s a decent girl,” chirps a judge who is clearly in doubt and doesn’t know what to do.

“But someone has to take care of her,” he mutters, and suddenly one of the policemen suddenly proposes: “Yes you send her to the island!”

“Oh, no, don’t do this! begs Mrs. Stanard. — Don’t do it! She’s a lady, and it’ll kill her!”

Happiness Nellie bly, the judge decides to define it a little to the institution, which is a little closer than the Isle of Blackwell. Way confused Mrs. brown is now in the hospital Manhattans Bellevue Hospital in the ambulance.

Hospital doctors will need to assess whether a young girl — crazy.

“To the Department for the mentally ill,” the doctor orders the ambulance tall, muscular man, when the carriage enters the territory of Bellevue Hospital on the banks of the East river.

Doctors declare her insane

Giant man tough enough blye hand hard enough that she “felt like her whole body was pierced with pain,” and leads her through the corridors of the hospital.

In the end they get to the building in which the seats sit three more alleged mentally ill awaiting sentencing.

While bly is waiting when someone from doctors will find time for her, a nurse to see if “Mrs. brown” any coins.

“They are all the same they’ll take you, sweetheart, so just give them to me,” whispers the nurse blye. But she refuses to give money to a woman.

Later comes a doctor. He quietly sits down next to Nelly, said the pulse and checks the language. “What are you doing in new York?” he asks after a short examination.

“Nothing,” she says.

“But work can you do?” — the doctor says.

“No, señor,” answers Nellie bly in Spanish.

“Tell me, are you one of those… You have allowed men to support themselves?” he asks a question.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying,” angrily responds bly, but most of all she wants to give the doctor a slap in the face.

Instead, the journalist continues to answer question after question. Every one of them — “a useless and meaningless”.

The doctor finally gets up and immediately says about his decision to nurse.

“Clearly, she’s crazy. I qualify it as a hopeless case. It should be placed where anyone can take care of,” he says, standing directly opposite Nelly. And she immediately loses respect for doctors.

“I’m convinced that no doctor can determine whether someone is mentally ill” — will write it later.

The next day, Sunday, September 25 – Nellie brown visits a new doctor. He wants to know if she could hear a young woman at night voice.

When Nelly answered in the affirmative, the case becomes absolutely clear: the woman is insane, and the only solution is to put her in the hospital for the insane on Blackwell’s island.

In just one weekend Nellie bly managed to secure a place in the institution, closed to the public.

About the middle of the next day her and four other patients trafficked to the infamous island in the East river.

Journalist udivleniem, niskolechki was the beginning of her undercover work. When she steps on the soil of the island, she has the most iridescent mood. But it goes on for long.

When immediately after that she roughly grabs the hand of the man — one of the workers to escort her to the ambulance, it reminds her of what lies ahead for her will be the test.

“What is this place?” asks Nellie bly man, not to get out of the way confused crazy person.

“Blackwell’s island — a place for the mentally ill, from which you can not escape” dryly responds the man.

First day: Prunes and dry bread for dinner

The ambulance jumps on the paths of the island on Monday evening September 26, while Nellie bly notes that the lawns on the way to the center of a beautiful and well maintained.

But the mood deteriorates dramatically when she looks into the faces of patients traveling with her in the carriage: all are facing an uncertain future behind bars.

“Poor women with no hope of release in the foreseeable future. For them it would be much easier to go to the gallows, not in that grave fears of the living,” wrote Bligh later about his time in the clinic.

While the carriage rides to elongated stone buildings of the hospital in the Northern part of the island, Nelly starts a conversation with Tilly, Mallard (Tillie Mayard) — a young woman, the impression of absolutely healthy.

But the doctors made their decision, and Tillie knows that she and bly’s little chance of ever leaving the island.

“If we got here, we need to keep calm until we find out. But outputs a bit, because the doctors refuse to listen to me or give me a chance to prove that I am absolutely normal”, — speaks the girl who can not understand how psychiatrists could declare Nellie bly insane.

“Mental patient? On your face that’s not seen” — time to say Tilly, before newly arriving patients are quickly removed from the ambulance and was escorted to the large main building of the institution.

When they enter, you can hear them slam locks large heavy doors of the main entrance.

After another medical examination in a psychiatric hospital on the island of Blackwell diagnosis of Nellie bly remains unchanged, although she insists that she is “not sick and doesn’t want to stay here.”

The doctor did not make her objections to the map. Instead, it sends blye in the common room, where patients sit on hard benches yellow and staring. In addition to the untuned piano in the room nothing.

“Everyone in the hallway!” commands a little later, a voice, and patients getting diverted to a large, locked door of the dining room.

Women stand waiting at the door a quarter of an hour. The open door blows out the cold autumn wind. The patient has turned blue from the cold.

“How cruel”, — she whispers another arrived with her, Anne Neville (Anne Neville), before patients by two men begin to pass into the dining room, where women sit on long benches without backs.

Nellie bly looks longingly at the table in front of him, where five prunes lie on a small plate next to a vessel with a “pink liquid”, which surely must be tea.

Next to the plate is a slice of dry bread with butter, but Nelly does not have time to sit down as the other woman grabs a sandwich.

Soon Nellie is necessary to state that the prunes completely inedible, and she gives it to someone else sitting at the table. Remains of the Cup of pink tea.

Making a small SIP, Nellie gives this fluid, “like water” as one of their experiencing great thirst friends in misfortune.

“You have to force yourself there, otherwise you’ll get sick. And in such a situation certainly will be. Brain need food,” warns her Anne Neville.

Patients are thrown into the icy water

Never eating, she along with the rest goes into the bathroom, where women are told to undress.

As Nellie bly ranges and even protests, a couple of nurses tore off her clothes, one item after the other until she is in underwear.

“I’m not going to take this off,” shouts Nelly, but barely has time to utter it to the end because one of the nurses rips off it and it. And here Nelly completely naked, and the other patients are staring at her.

In order to escape, she quickly jumps into the tub with ice water, while patient age older told her to wash.

“On my head pour three buckets of ice water, the water gets into the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. I am experiencing the same feelings of the person who’s going to drown before they pull me out of the bath and I’m gasping for air and shaking from cold and shock. This time I really feel absolutely abnormal”, — says blye.

While the cold water still dripping off her body, nurses clothe Nellie bly in the costume, which flaunts the inscription “Institution for the mentally ill. B. I. H. 6”. This indicates that newly arrived patient relates to ward 6 at the hospital on Blackwell’s island. There she will live in a cell with cold stone walls.

Before the nurse miss Grupe closes the cell door Nelly, a patient asks nightgown.
“You are now in the official establishment, and you can’t expect that you something will give,” the Group responds with a strong German accent.

“But for the fact that the staff were kind to the poor that come here, pays city,” said Bligh.

“Don’t count on some kind of kindness because you’ll never see her again!” — Group hisses, and then slams the door. Chilled to the bone and wet Nellie bly again have to sit alone in the dark.

Second day: from cleaning is getting warmer

When bly awaken the next morning, at 05.30 hours. The nurse opens the window, and Nellie feels the gusts of cold morning wind. She almost didn’t sleep because of the screams of other patients.

When bly considers the patients while they wait for Breakfast, then understand that it is difficult to distinguish between them.

All shuffles feet, all in identical white robes. Finally she finds Tilly, Mallard, which is quite easy to learn because she has short hair.

“How’d you sleep after a cool bath?” asks Nelly my new friend.

“I’m almost numb from the cold, and because it was noisy most of the night. It’s a nightmare. Like I wasn’t enough I experienced before here! I’m not going to tolerate this pressure,” says Tilly, before the tired women enter the dining room, where they will be iced tea and a lump of disgusting oatmeal.

Later that same day, bly turns to nurse and asks for some clothes, so patients don’t feel cold all the time in unheated rooms.

In response, she is rewarded with only a sour glance.

Women are a bit warm, in the morning when they give out a rag and a brush to wash the floor.

“It’s not the staff keeps the school clean for the unfortunate patients, as I always thought. No, here everything is done to patients, they even clean the bedroom and nurses wash their clothes,” writes bly.

The garden is also answered by the patients, but on the street they may be, only when caring for lawns. Just do something outside or enjoy the sun on the grass is prohibited.

Worse — daily walk for the sickest and most violent of patients of the island. They are tied to each other by the straps with a rope.

“Help them, Lord! It’s so awful that I can’t look,” chirps Anna Neville, when two women on a walk you see a group tied to each other patients.

In the rest of the day bly and her other patients don’t have to do anything other than sit in the common room and stare at the ceiling. Dinner brings some variety to a boring existence, but sad menu does not promise to patients anything good.

“My heart hurts when I see sick patients at the table get sick even more. Miss Tilly, Mallard felt so bad when she swallowed only one piece that she had to run out from behind the Desk, and she immediately got scolded for something that left its place. If patients complain of food, they just told to shut up”, — writes bly, which sees at the same time as the staff eats melons, grapes, meat and fresh bread.

Every hour means torment, and after dinner patients directly again forced to sit on hard benches until it comes time to go to bed. Women are not even allowed to spend time with a book. After spending the day in the center, Nellie bly becomes absolutely convinced that the stay on the island Blackwell brings more harm than good.

Days 3-9. Staff arrange torture

The days go by, and the conditions on the island Blackwell outraged bly more. The cold autumn weather, it seems, deprives patients of any vital spark.

“Almost every night I heard some old woman screaming that she was cold and asked God to let her die,” writes bly from the night in the hospital.

With a heavy heart, she notices that neither miss Class nor other attendants — clad in woolen underwear and a warm jacket — you don’t care about an old patient who complains that he is freezing.

“Oh, what are you doing to me? I’m so cold, so cold. Why can’t you just leave me in bed or to give me a shawl?” — asked the woman when the staff forced her to sit on one of the benches in the common room.

Every time a woman tries to lie down on the bench, her orderlies run up and pick it up.

In the end, miss Grupe sits to the woman on her knees and fumbles with a cold hand beneath the rags of the old woman so that the patient’s breath and she begins to cry.

Group and other employees laughing evilly, and then a German nurse repeats all over again.

The hospital staff systematically humiliated patients to enjoy their reaction. Even the coarse violence on the island — it is quite normal.

Once shocked bly watched as the older sister, miss Grady (Grady), deliberately provoked the attack in a female patient named Urena (Urena).

“The doctors say you’re 33, not 18”, ‘ said Grady, who knows that the patient always comes into a rage if someone starts to argue that she is not so young. Urena shouted loudly, and then burst into sobs.

And since she won’t stop crying despite the orders of the staff, the nurses strike her body and face.

“Because of this, the poor girl began to cry even more, and so they began to choke. Yes, they simply tried to strangle her. They dragged her to the bathroom, and I heard terrified screams that were drowned in the sounds of suffocation. It was not a few hours, and when she returned to the common room, I clearly could see the marks of their fingers on her neck,” tell bly later.

The journalist several times complained of ill-treatment and doctors and nurses, but the only result was that Nellie was transferred to The Lodge, which contained the sickest patients.

“This is the worst place on the island. There’s an awful dirty and it stinks,” says bly, which regularly beaten. Several times the nurses even jumped on it, with the result that it turned out to be two broken ribs.

But the beautiful young girl who was transferred to The Lodge at the same time with Bligh, is doing even worse. Bly drew attention to the fact that she is terminally ill. She has a fever, but the terrible conditions when there is mud and rats, do not help her recovery.

A young girl complains, and the orderlies dragged her to the bathroom. There she was beaten, stripped naked and kept under ice-cold water running from the tap.

Then the nurses send a wet and shivering woman back into the bed.

“The next morning the girl was dead. The doctors said she died of convulsions — that’s all,” says Nellie bly, which gradually begins to feel that it is no longer enough: “I secretly cursed the doctors, sisters, nurses and all state institutions,” she writes.

Tenth day: lawyer rescues bly

On Wednesday, October 5, Nellie bly makes a daily walk, but suddenly it is withdrawn in the direction of and report that it is waiting for a lawyer.

The lawyer sent the New York World, told the hospital leaders that friends Nellie brown agreed to take care of 23-year-old woman declared mentally ill only ten days ago.

In agreement with the editor-in-chief John Kokeilla Nelly took the surname brown. With the help of the advocate newspaper can get.

The patient can leave the island, Blackwell’s only the case if family or friends agree to take care of him.

Therefore, employees of the hospital do not prevent the lawyer of the newspaper, when he arrives in bly.

“Goodbye, I’m leaving home,” the last words of Bligh with her new friends. And then she is depressed, with the feeling that her conscience is unclean, leaves his companions in misfortune, who will continue to live in captivity to the God-forsaken island.

“I passed by them walking to freedom and life, while their expected life, which is worse than death. Ten days I was one of them. And in that moment, when I stood there and was going to leave, I felt incredibly selfish to leave them there in this horror. I had a romantic desire to help them, to Express my sympathy and stay. But only for a moment. I stopped grating, the taste of freedom was sweeter than ever,” she said.

Article bly became a sensation

Although Nellie bly and can not help the unfortunate on the island of Blackwell, left there, she begins to fight them with pen and paper.

Already on 9 October — after only four days after returning home — New York World printed the first article about bly psychiatric hospital.

Under the title “Behind bars companies” the journalist describes the “terror with the use of cold baths and cruel evil men, and they torment the patients and mistreat them,” said the newspaper in the introduction to the material.

“Institution for the mentally ill on Blackwell’s island is a trap, not for rats as for humans. To be there just n, if you got there, escape is impossible,” writes bly, that his story shows very clearly how indifferent doctors are deciding the fate of women who are experiencing confusion, and how disgusting treat patients when they were in the dungeons.

Sunday the next article bly, the new Yorkers are lining up to read it. Even competing published here and there columns about the case.

And they even announce the new Nellie bly, the great journalist.

Everyone in new York talking about it. Never before has the story of a female reporter did not say much.

“She has a great future,” declares the New York World owner Joseph Pulitzer, and backed up his words by taking bly on a permanent job.

Two months later, newspaper magnate and allows 23-year-old journalist to write a book about what she experienced on the island of Blackwell.

At the time of the article the young reporter was awakened by a long time new York politicians, and together with the Committee to investigate bly is returned to the institution.

Much has happened since her departure. Many employees are fired, the conditions became better.

“From the time that Mrs. brown left this place, everything was different. The nurses were much friendlier, we have enough clothes. Doctors visit us more often, the food is edible,” says Anne Neville, who knows bly just as her friend Nellie brown.

Bly, with its journalistic skepticism thinks, has not received her ex-girlfriend by misfortune instruction from members of the staff, told her to embellish reality. She was concerned about — including because during the current visit of the island sees Tilly, Mallard, as which is not noticeable, that her life became better.

On the contrary, Nellie bly believes that the young girl has clearly deteriorated.

Bly realizes that to save the island Blackwell’s possible not all.

But thanks to her, patients are now far more likely to survive.


The work of Nellie bly’s undercover has not solved all the problems, but were of great importance for people suffering from mental diseases in new York.

Before the end of 1887, the city policy has allocated an additional million dollars similar institutions. The authorities also introduced new rules for the treatment of the mentally ill.

Ten days Nellie bly in the hospital, was not in vain.