Talk:McLean Hospital

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Are[edit]

Are you trying to contribute to the article or promote your writing? --DeanoNightRider 09:20, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

24-hour Crisis Line[edit]

Wikipedia is not the Yellow Pages. I am removing the sentence referring to the crisis line. Raj Fra 04:23, 5 March 2006 (UTC)Raj_Fra

Where was McLean founded?[edit]

Also, I am not changing this, but clarification needed: was McLean founded in Charlestown or in an area that is part of modern-day Somerville? Charlestown is not (and never has been) part of Somerville. It was an independent town, and is now part of Boston. Raj Fra 04:23, 5 March 2006 (UTC)Raj_Fra

For future reference - Charlestown was once a lot bigger. Somerville was part of Charlestown. McLean was in the part that became Somerville in the 1840s. FreplySpang 01:29, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Harvard and MIT students[edit]

I'm removing this line: "The hospital is also the destination for students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University who are in danger of suicide or who show signs of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses which often first manifest themselves at college age." A friend at MIT attempted suicide, and was hospitalized, but did not touch the doorstep of McLean. I'm afraid saying instead that it is the destination for "many" or "some" students would imply too much. Samaritan 09:40, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Out of curiosity...where and when was your friend hospitalised ? When I was an undergraduate (admittedly, some years ago, but my experience isn't nearly as outdated as much of this article), I knew several people who had been sent to McLean (mainly for depression; I didn't know anyone who had a psychotic disorder).
I hope your friend has been able to get help and is doing better. 174.111.253.85 (talk) 01:39, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

"One" of the Olsen twins? =[edit]

The article says that one of the Olsen twins was hospitalized here. Which one? I'd think it was Mary Kate, but am unwilling to add more unsourced material. On that note, we need a source for the Olsen twin hospitalization. The others mentioned are fairly well known, and I don't think they need sourcing. -Elizabennet 02:25, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Poetry At McLean Hospital[edit]

by Doug Holder

In the Winter the view from McLean Hospital can be quite beautiful. Perched on top of a hill over the sedate town of Belmont, Mass., the alluring sparkle of the city lights of Boston create a brilliant panorama stretching across the horizon. One would not ordinarily look for such a scene at a psychiatric hospital. Perhaps it is not surprising then, that on these grounds poets such as: Robert Lowell, Slyvia Plath and Anne Sexton found comfort and even inspiration. Here they were safe from the manic highs and lows, the tumult, and the stresses of the city only five miles away.


Times have changed since that august group of Poets paced the hall at McLean Hospital. The population of the hospital is dramatically different now than Anne Sexton's and Lowell's time. Lowell describes the patrician atmosphere at the hospital in his poem "Waking In The Blue":

"What use is my sense of humor?

I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties

once a Harvard all-American fullback

if such were possible!

still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties...


A kingly granite profile in crimson golf-cap

worn all day, all night

he thinks only of his figure

of slimming on sherbert and ginger-ale

more cut off from words than a seal."


Lowell's piece describes life at Mclean more than forty years ago. Now on the wards of the hospital we have the homeless, Medicare clients, along with the students and the ocassional VIP. On a unit I worked on in the past, a unit with acutely ill patients; a poetry group thrived on Friday evenings. For ten years I worked with patients in a sometimes fustrating but often rewarding effort. I remember in the first group I ran, I read Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" I thought this haunting cry of a poem would act as a stimulant for discussion. Unfortunately patients in this seminal group did not want to hear Ginsberg's lament about the "best minds of his generation lost to madness." I remember one patient telling me bluntly " Why do I have to hear this? I live it." There were other mishaps in the early days of the group. Once I read a poem that concerned chickens. A young woman suddenly became hysterical and ran from the group in a fit of tears. The rest of the group followed her in support. It seems that the girl associated fowl with a particurally painful episode in her life. Needless to say I had some explaining to do to my supervisor. I can remember a clinically depressed Harvard grad. student thanking me for a particular passage from a poem I read because it shed light on his situation and gave him a degree of hope. I recall an almost mute patient suddenly start to wax eloquently after I read a stanza of Eliot's "Wasteland" One thing is certain: the right poem at the right time can certainly evoke strong reactions and even act as a balm in a time of great stress.


The material I used in the group was always quite accessible. I am an avid reader and contributor to the small press, so I used little magazines like Ibbetson Street, Poesy, Spare Change News and others to good effect. I encouraged patients to bring in their favorite poems, or ones they wrote themselves. I encouraged all members of the group to be supportive and positive toward each other's work. Over the years I developed a community of patient poets. For the last year or so I have worked in a different setting and different capacity at the hospital. I don't run a formal poetry group currently, but I still take patients to readings at "The Out of The Blue Gallery" in Cambridge, Mass. when time permits. And still, when I walk around the grounds of McLean I am often greeted by former group members, " Hey Doug, when's the next poetry group?"

This article originally appeared in "The Boston Poet" 1997. It has been updated. later appeared in "Kaldiescope" magazine. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 72.70.89.252 (talk) 14:43, 14 March 2007 (UTC).

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