My grandma has a cat that is roughly 15-years-old. We adopted the cat from the shelter a couple years ago as a companion for her other cat. Both cats are about the same age but they have completely different personalities. The one we adopted is a tortoise-colored cat that looks like a skeleton with fur but she is the sweetest thing and loves on everybody who will give her the time of day; her name is Pumpkin. Minnie, on the other hand, is a demon spawned from hell and will viciously attack anybody who walks by her if she’s in the slightest irritated of moods. Ironically, it was Pumpkin who completely surprised everybody when it came to meeting my dogs.
My great-grandmother has severe dementia and has over the last couple of years told some fabulously wild tales. Her stories both entertain us making us smile and sadden us as we watch her awareness slip more and more. In addition to hearing my grandmother’s stories I also got to hear some stories from the residents where I worked. Without naming people I decided it would be great to share some of the tales and bring a little light to something that is actually quite tragic. Most of the stories come from people who were very sharp and at one point extremely aware.
There are a lot of people who crack jokes about asylums, including the entirety of the horror movie industry, and how terrible they are. I am no different. Looking back on the first time I saw the clock tower building at the edge of town I distinctly remember saying it looked like an old asylum. Honestly I meant that it would make a good scene for a horror movie, little did I know that I wasn’t far off. It was a behavioral health clinic in its prime. Once I actually moved to Topeka I started taking a more in depth look into the old asylum and its property.
Every society, culture, or even theology has some figure that is used to help quell the wild side of individuals. It would be fair to argue that monsters are a culturally varying enforcer. How many of us remember at some point our parents told us if we didn’t behave or do what was expected that something or someone was going to get us? The boogeyman was used to make kids stay in bed at night. Dracula and werewolves were used by different cultures to tell young people not to go out after dark. Nessie was a tool to keep the population from swimming in the Loc. Even the most well known enforcer figure used today, the Devil, is used to intimidate the general population to be “good.” Is it possible that as a society we need the monsters to help encourage social morals?