I had the honor of viewing Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution by Lucy Winer in my own home. I watched it twice because there was so much to take in and process. This documentary is about a woman who after more than thirty years returns to Kings Park Hospital where she was committed to the violent ward at the age of seventeen for trying to commit suicide. Lucy had spent two years in a private institution and six months at Kings Park. The young Lucy knew that she needed help and she hoped that she would finally receive it. The adult Lucy was on a mission to confront that seventeen year old girl who was always just under the surface in her memory. Her goal was to unlock the reasons why that young girl was sent there, what caused her depression, and what caused her to leave that part of herself in the past.
I didn’t know what to expect when I turned on the DVD. I think I was expecting an angry woman who viewed herself as a victim as a result of living in a state mental hospital for six months. Not that anyone could blame her but that’s not Lucy. What I saw was an intelligent, honest, compassionate, non-judgmental woman with a calming demeanor who spoke softly and articulately about her past. She interviewed several people and let them say what they wanted and needed to say. She presented a balanced insight into what it was like living in a mental hospital in the year 1967. Her emotions were real and her reactions were sincere. Lucy Winer will forever be endeared to me because of her inner strength, bravery, and persistence in finding the answers that she had long been searching for. The movie is thought-provoking, moving, informative, and disturbing.
There are so many issues that go undetected by the general public because no one talks about them. In law, a defendant cannot claim ignorance, but in life we do it everyday. Not that we intend to ignore everything that is happening around us but because we are a nation of exhausted people; working 40 to 50 hours a week, taking care of our own families, trying to pay the bills, being taxed to death for everything not knowing where our money is going, and getting up the next morning and doing it all over again. Mental Illness and the way we treat people with problems are important issues that must be discussed because it touches us all in so many ways. It could happen to members of your own family: your daughter, son, husband, wife, partner, mother, father, and it could happen to you. What would you have done if faced with the same set of circumstances that Lucy was given? Would you have been courageous enough, and smart enough to survive?