A browse that started with Neil Whites “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts”

I was listening to some of the interviews from Kim Hills Saturday morning breakfast show via pod-cast. One that particularly piqued my imaginings was with Neil White. He served 2 years in a white collar federal prison that inhabited part of a Leprosy or Hansen disease facility – Gillis W. Long Hansen’s Disease Center or Carville. He has since written a memoir about the experience which from what I gather expressed the humility he learnt while co-habituating with people that blew his sense of self pity and hubris out of the water. – How can you feel sorry for yourself when faced with someone in an antique wheel chair and no legs..

Since hearing the interview I’ve spent some time seaching the net to find out more, about Carville, leprosy and Neil himself. His website includes some beautiful imagery from the facility and the “used coke bottle garden” – which relates to a parable that was told to him by one of the pateints. “The coke bottle is still a coke bottle but it jus has a different purpose”

On doing a search on Hansen disease I found an image that was taken by Mary Ellen Mark of a large Black nurse cradelling a shrunken elderly patients head in her hands at Carville. It is such a striking image. I purosed further into Marks work and found out about a book called Ward 81 Which was a follow on from Marks expereince while taking still shots for One flew out the cuckoos nest at an Oregan aslyum. Ward 81 was a maximum security unit for women.

Ward 81

Ward 81

And fascinating fact I found along the way.. There is no known cause of Hansen’s Disease, a bacterial infliction, and there is no tests to confirm it. Diagnosis is by symptoms, and there is a theory that relates it to exposure to Armadillos.


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