Today I would like to say a few words about the setting and world of Sanatorium.
What treatments and tests are historically accurate? Is the Sanatorium real?
The Good and the Bad
The inspiration for the name Castle Woods is a literal translation of “Burghölzli” the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich. Build in 1867 and still used as a modern Clinic, the Hospital housed many famous psychiatrists and physicians of the late 19th and early 20th Century: Herman Rorschach (yes that’s the one the tests are named after) and also more sinister figures like Donald Ewen Cameron, who conducted unethical experiments developing mind control and psychological modifications techniques for the CIA.
Sanatorium takes place in the 1920s somewhere in New England. This was a time of extreme change in the field of psychology. New approaches and methods focused on the life and history of the patient, searching for explanations, became popular. In the United States this was also the time when the long existing “Science” of phrenology, the explanation of human behaviour based on skull and brain shape, was used in an attempt to treat people. This resulted in methods like lobotomy, which became the gold standard of treatment in the United States and Britain until the 1950.
So, we see that in the 1920s you had a considerable pallet of methods and treatments, most of them are pseudo-science and dangerous by today’s standard. This gives Sanatorium a multitude of treatment and test cards and places the player at the crossroad of the development. Should Mental Healthcare be focused on the individual and their needs, or should it “heal” patients so that they can adhere to social norms? This is the game’s core conflict.
We draw inspiration from all Continents and different periods. Some methods used in Castle Woods, like the “Surprise-Bath”, where a patient is tied to a chair and lowered in water and pulled out just before they drowned, was a method developed in the Victorian age and would not really have been widely used in the 20s.
Other treatments like electroconvulsive therapy were just being developed.
An excellent and short read from the 19th century is “10 days in a mad house” by Nelly Bly, she is widely regarded as one of the first investigative journalists and in 1887 had herself committed to a Mental Asylum. Her account shows that the theme of mental health and facilities like Castle Woods is directly linked to social questions. Mainly, women were caught up in a system designed to separate “socially undesirables”. These practices would continue deep into the 20th Century.
Everything began to change with the advent of Psychopharmacology and modern mental healthcare beginning in the 1950s until today.
Meeting the Metapolice
After reporting this, Meta contacted me with an email saying that I have probably posted inappropriate things, spammed people or gained followers in an improper way. I must point out here again that it was the account creation that failed. So, I was never able to log in and interact with the account.
Anyway, what happened after was quite strange and creepy: Meta sent me another mail saying that I have to send a photo of myself—even if there is no photo showing my face on the banned account (how could I post one??) — holding a white paper with a code (which was in the mail), the name of my account and my full name handwritten on it.
Of course, I was sceptic, but after a quick google research I found out that they really do this to fight fake accounts and bots.
Now, after several days, nothing happened, and I’m still waiting to get access to our non-existing account, while Meta now has gained my face, my name and my company in one single file. That’s how you get customer data right away before they even use your service. Nice one, Meta!
All I wanted to do is an Instagram account for my company.
Anyway, here is my Metapolice mugshot: