For her own good

Someone must have slandered Jean Gambell, for one morning in 1937, without having done anything truly wrong, she was arrested. Gambell, a poor working girl in England, was falsely convicted of stealing two and a half shillings from her boss. She didn’t steal the money, and in fact the money was later found, but by then it was too late. She had already been convicted, and, more to the point, she had already come under the eye of State psychiatry. Declared feeble-minded, this fifteen year old girl was locked up in English psychoprisons for seventy years over a trivial crime that she never committed. Her family desperately tried to get her released, but could not. Eventually she simply disappeared into the system, and her brothers no longer even knew whether she was alive or dead. Jean Gambell herself repeatedly told her prison guards in a care home that she had family she could go to, but they kept her locked up, because she had been officially declared crazy and stupid and could, therefore, be dismissed as a liar. All for her own good.

Jean Gambell finally escaped the talons of the therapeutic State last month—at the age of 85, with a lifetime stolen from her—when her brother finally learned that she was alive and confined in Macclesfield Mews Care Home.

Seventy years locked up in institutions hardly seems to be a punishment that befits the crime of stealing half-a-crown.

However, it is just such a fate that befell Jean Gambell when at the age of 15, in 1937, she was falsely accused of stealing 2s 6d (12.5p) from the doctor’s surgery where she worked as a cleaner.

She was sectioned under the 1890 Lunacy Act and even though the money was later found, she has been moved from mental institution to mental institution. More recently, she went into a care home and has been lost to her family, who thought she was dead.

But last month, by chance, her brother stumbled across correspondence which led to the discovery of her existence and the family was reunited.

Her brother David Gambell, 63, who still lives in his mother’s old home in Wirral, Merseyside, received a questionnaire addressed to his mother from Macclesfield Mews Care Home.

I thought it was just a survey for old people and I was about to throw it away when I saw Jean’s name pencilled in on one corner, he said yesterday.

I couldn’t believe it. I suddenly realised that my sister was still alive. I rang the care home straight away and they confirmed that our sister was there. He and his brother Alan, who had last seen their sister as small children when she was allowed to visit home with two wardens as guards, travelled to the Macclesfield home.

They were told by staff that their 85-year-old sister was deaf, could only communicate in writing and was very unlikely to remember them.

A little old lady on walking sticks came in, said Alan. She looked at us and cried out: Alan…David. Then she put her arms around us. It was very emotional.

I am sure that what has kept her going all these years was the challenge of proving to the authorities that she had a family. The trouble was, nobody would listen to her.

The brothers spent much of their childhood in orphanages because their parents were so poor. They said that they had later discovered that their father had tried for years to get Jean freed after she was put in Cranage Hall mental hospital in Macclesfield for being of feeble mind, but was unsuccessful because her records had been mislaid.

She spent years, lost in a maze of instutitons and care homes, trying to convince people in authority that she had a family. But nobody would believe her.

— David Sapsted, The Telegraph (2007-09-29): Falsely accused woman freed after 70 years

There is one thing that is even more terrifying than the savage cruelty of the hangman State, and that is the dispassionate sadism of psychiatric State—the therapist armed with the law, the straight-jacket, the lobotomy, and a near-absolute entitlement to take your freedom and destroy your life, and call that care for your professionally-reckoned best interests.

(Link thanks to Austro-Athenian Empire 2007-10-21: The Coldest of All Cold Monsters and Anthony Gregory @ LewRockwell.com Blog 2007-10-21: Innocent Woman Freed After 70 Years.)

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9 replies to For her own good Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Discussed at www.davetrowbridge.com

    The Discovered Country » Blog Archive » A Del.icio.us Potpourri for October 27th, 2007 through October 30th, 2007:

    […] Rad Geek People’s Daily 2007-10-29 – For her own good - For Halloween, a true-life horror story. "There is one thing that is even more terrifying than the savage cruelty of the hangman State, and that is the dispassionate sadism of [the] psychiatric State…" […]

— 2008 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-02-01 – Law and Orders #6: Pigs at the trough:

    […] unchecked and almost completely discretionary power to ruin your life on a cop’s whim is all For Your Own Good, of […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-02-21 – Mississippi Corrections:

    […] It is tempting to call this kind of treatment barbaric. But that would be a slander against the good name of barbarians. The most brutal Hun or Vandal would never imagine inflicting this kind of relentless, sustained, coordinated, institutionalized sadism on anyone. They might kill you, but they wouldn’t pay professionals to break you. What would be the point? No, it takes a civilized society for people to imagine a use for a torture camp like Columbia—whether that’s institutionalizing their own revenge fantasies, or, what’s worse, claiming that it’s all for their victims’ own good. […]

  3. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-11-10 – On sound and fury:

    […] GT 2007-10-29: For her own good […]

— 2009 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-01-31 – Rapists in uniform #5: on invasions of privacy:

    […] of extreme violence and sexual humiliation on an imprisoned woman, over a period of hours — for her own good. Afterwards, when a local news station interviewed Hope Steffey, and aired video of what the cops […]

  2. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-07-31 – The Police Beat:

    […] and crushed him until he vomited, passed out, and died. They were electrocuting him, incidentally, For His Own Good, after he begged neighbors to call the cops to help him out. He was unarmed; he wasn’t acting […]

— 2013 —

— 2014 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People's Daily 2014-04-10 – Pattern of Abuse:

    […] In case you were wondering this story is like everything I hate about the liberal state, rolled into one dystopian package and labeled helpfully FOR HER OWN GOOD. […]

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