Monday, October 8, 2012

A Cold Welcoming

A postcard featuring the administration building at the
Norristown Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
It seems that after Von Weren's wife died, no one saw or heard from him for months. With no one daring to go near the house, people may have very well believed that he had died of grief. His journal remained untouched, with the next entry jumping to March 27, 1895. Here, he reflects on a speaking engagement held at the Norristown Asylum for the Criminally Insane (now called the Norristown State Hospital). It is unclear why he was asked to speak at the hospital, since his research (as far as I know) did not include psychology and did not seem to have an practical relation to the field. Here is Van Were in his own words:
Wednesday, March 27, 1895 
I was requested to speak at the Norristown Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Leading up to the event, I received several letters from a Dr. Anastasia LeBoux, which at first I dismissed without reading. Then, a single letter became two, then three, until I was receiving five letters nearly every day from the woman. Finally, I relented and opened one of the envelopes, as to avoid clogging my chimney. Dr. LeBoux, as it turns out, has long followed my work and saw potential applications for it at the hospital, though I cannot imagine how. 
Skeptical, I agreed to speak at the hospital. In a small room, I spoke to a crowd of no more than a dozen disinterested psychologist (a profession of which, I believe, is of no profession at all). It was, indeed, quite the cold welcoming. Though I planned on immediately returning home, Dr. LeBoux cornered me before I left. We spoke at length about the work she was doing at the hospital and how she believed that even the most criminally insane patients could be "rehabilitated to further usage," given the correct treatment. It seems my research may have found a new, practical purpose, that may serve my own personal endeavors as well.

This all makes me wonder what the doctor had been doing in the intervening months. I'm sure dealing with grief, however to have such an abrupt change and a "new, practical purpose" seems very odd. Hopefully it will lead to something more. I'll share more history on the hospital itself for next time.


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