Children of Darkness

1983 ,    »  -   19 Comments
294
8.56
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Ratings: 8.56/10 from 81 users.
Storyline
Children of Darkness

This is an Oscar nominated 1983 documentary film exploring the issue of mentally ill children and the institutions they lived in. The film not only exposed the abuse in mental institutions but it also educated people that mental illness can happen to anyone.

Hundred and sixty mentally ill and emotionally disturbed children lived at the Eastern State School and Hospital (now closed) in Trevose, Pennsylvania.

They were psychotic, schizophrenic; they suffered from organic brain damage and autism. Some were hyperactive, some totally withdrawn, some were suicidal. Many of the children at Eastern were chronically mentally ill and never saw what we see, heard what we hear, thought in ways we do. Eastern State was the largest children's state psychiatric hospital in America. Each child got food, mediation and a place to sleep.

For those who could benefit from it there was almost no one-to-one or any other form of psychotherapy. The major therapy at Eastern was drugs. Almost every child there was getting some form of psychotropic medication; medication that alters the brain's chemistry in an attempt to control psychotic behavior.

Another popular place for dealing with out-of-control teenagers was the private residential treatment center Elane (now also closed). If you broke one of the rules or your attitude wasn't right you get yelled at which was the main method of "therapy." The teenagers who went there were not mentally ill, psychiatric hospitals didn't work for them. They were alcoholics, drug addicts and drug pushers. They were teenagers who had victimized others and themselves.

The kids at Elan were almost all white, from upper-middle class and wealthy homes. Their parents paid more than $20,000 a year to send them there for treatment. But those were children who had acted out often violently against their parents. Day in, day out, life in Elan was constant confrontation and unrelenting pressure. The feelings and negative attitudes were broken down, dissected and torn apart. The idea was to change the children's behavior.

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19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. bringmeredwine

    This was very disturbing and depressing.
    I might try and look up some of these institutions like South Beach and Elan, to find out more about them.
    Yesterday, a desperate mother of a mentally challenged 20 year old, with the mentality of a 2 year old, recently tried to drop off her daughter at a government office, because she couldn't take care of her any more, and there was no place to put her. This was in Arnprior, Ontario.
    The police were summoned, and some big shots finally met with her and miraculously found her daughter a spot in a group home. Only a week before, she'd been refused help.
    Canada has been in the process of closing psychiatric institutions and paring down the few group homes that are left for these children.

  2. Brogan M

    11.02 - the social worker used the term "mildly r*tarded" IN FRONT of the kid. I could have almost screamed at my laptop when I saw that. In this was only 20 years ago - chees.

  3. Danielle

    All those people and all that effort to strap him into a bed, when just one could sit there and stroke his hand. How often do you think they tried that?

  4. Eric Lawson

    It is so sad to see these lives fall through the cracks. Money is the key to filling these cracks !!

  5. shaody

    The human species is the only one that contains poor sods like these. In all other species natural selection would weed them out. It is a sad situation and will only escalate.

  6. johnBas5

    Don't worry. Most people with serious genetic problems aren't able sustain a relation leading to procreation. Some people should be sterilised of course.

    This is a temporary solution until gene therapy allows for curing genetic faults in adult people. With advanced gene therapy you could change their genes into fit ones. Selecting genes instead of people.

  7. Anothercoilgun

    Oh for god sake. Pseudo intelligent gmo, what gives?

  8. johnBas5

    Medical care gives? People not wanting to suffer horrible lives in excruciating pain for the rest of their life? Quality of life gives!

  9. liz

    Wow, congratulations — *slow claps* — thank you for sharing your highly scientific research and opinion. How long did it take you to think of that?

  10. Eric Lawson

    Brians Father is great kinda old to have a son of Brians age. He does love him though. The others perhaps even Brian and his girlfriend should be given birth control training.I doubt he will live any kind of a normal life. There is no easy answer to what to do with theses kids. Sad .Did not know there were so many. My heart goes out to them !!!

  11. Juci Shockwave

    The only suffering such people face are judgmental, arrogant, ignorant folks like you, who limit people with disabilities even further and thinks we ought to be gassed or put down like diseased rodents or dogs. Isn't it hard enough people with disabilities have to overcome their own limitations without a-holes like you making it harder still by stating there is something wrong with us and taking our freedoms and opportunities away. I think the narrowness of folks like you are what tormenting people with disabilities with excruciating pain. Treat folks with disabilities with dignity and respect and you would be surprised what they can do for you and others. Once more you oght to step outside your limited world view and read history, some of the greatest thinkers and inventors were men and women with disabilities.

  12. mikeysbro

    This documentary is a great example of how ignorant humanity is on the topic on nutritional science. Dr Abram Hoffer was a pioneer in orthomolecular medicine and he mainly used various b vitamins to treat mental illness with great success. Though every person is different, his work proves that nutritional deficiencies affect many of those labeled with so called "mentally illness".

  13. ,Becky Andrews

    exactly right u tell it!!

  14. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    Where are the mentally ill of today? Certainly not in state institutions. St. Ronnie closed all state mental faacilities. They are roaming our streets in need of help. Sadly, America aint in the giving mood.

  15. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    You seem to believe, incorrectly, that solving mental illness is simple. Basic logic would dictate if the solution were as simplistic as B vitimans the problem would have been solved - completely - by now. Your solution is not by any means applicable to all mental illnesses. If you think Brian, at the 8 min mark of the vid, can recover from his dibilitating illness with vitamins, then you prly believe the moon landing was staged, that vaccinations cause autism and the tooth fairy is real.

  16. mikeysbro

    I find your comment interesting but lacking in nutritional information. Abraham Hoffer proved mental illnesses have a connection with nutrition.
    In addition, a lack of various nutrients can cause mental illness such as; serotonin, melatonin, omega 3 oils, b vitamins and so forth.
    Not to forget various substances cause mental illnesses such as; alcohol, drugs, artificial sweeteners, and so forth.
    Furthermore, you are attempting to convince a person with personal family experience including friends.
    You see witnessing is believing and those who are the most skeptical that make the most fuss, are the ones who never attempted such endeavours.
    All mental illness can be helped by proper nutrition, though it depends what the cause is. If a mental illness is caused by say an accident where a portion of the brain is missing or severely damaged then full recovery may not be possible. Though if the mental illness is caused by a so called chemical imbalance then full recovery is more likely using diet, nutrition, exercise and so forth.
    Thus to use the analogy that mental illness using natural means to recover is a fairy tale, a faked moon landing, and other claims is only theory based upon nutritional ignorance. Reality is that mental illnesses have a direct connection to nutrition as Dr Abram proved. Including the scientific study of various vitamins (from whole foods are best) and nutrients that are required for the brain to function normally.
    Therefore based upon; scientific studies, personal experience, experience of others, I disagree with your comment that mental illnesses treated with nutrition is only a fairy tale.

  17. Wendy Lyne

    If you count being locked in a seclusion room for hours therapy? That was there therapy for us normal kids!! Thank God Eastern State is done!! Your documentary is mild to what really went on in there!! An

  18. Nurse Sarah

    Know who would agree with this statement? Hitler. We are human, and I choose through my humanity to care for those who are unwanted. People like you can sit at home and never have to deal with this, but until you care for mentally delayed people everyday, especially youth, then you have no idea what wonderful people they can be. I do not believe in advocation of death due to natural selection, and do not believe they should be put down, nor should any animal. You nor I have any power granted to us to choose who dies or lives. These people are important and have a purpose. These people touch lives and many serve our community much better than people who are not mentally impaired. You should be ashamed of yourself for considering them lesser, because they most certainly are not. While they may be different and require special assistance, many of them bring joy to those they touch, and bring out love, compassion, and empathy in others, and express it themselves. Thank you.

  19. EveryVilenIsLemons

    I didn't like the screaming part.

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