A 3 ½ year project premiering May 7th at 9 p.m. on TVO, is Emmy winner John Kastner's latest documentary, Out of Mind, Out of Sight: Inside the Brockville Psych. This film gives viewers an intimate portrait of the inner workings of the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital, a forensic facility which would have formerly been known as an “asylum for the criminally insane”. This documentary will be rebroadcast on TVO Thursday May 8th at 10pm and Sunday May 11th at 11 pm
Surrounded by high unscalable chain link fencing and appearing more like a prison than a mental health facility, Brockville looks imposing. Everyone there has committed at least one serious, sometimes horrific crime. All patients have violent pasts. Most are schizophrenic. (Kastner makes the important distinction that patients are there because of their violence, not their mental illness, and that schizophrenia itself is not associated with criminal behaviour.)
Patients there are deemed NCR, that is, Not Criminally Responsible for the actions that led them there; a designation that is controversial in itself.
This is not to say that they are not “paying” for their crimes. Continue watching this provocative, poignant and enlightening documentary, and you will see that some pay quite dearly for what they have done. Patients are housed at Brockville to to be kept safe, and to receive compassionate care and treatment, with the objective of stabilizing their illnesses, and improving the quality of their lives. The eventual goal is reintroduction into society, if and when possible. (It isn't always.)
Kastner illustrates their existence through film footage and interviews with front line nurses, psychiatrists and patients themselves. Out of Mind, Out of Sight is stark, gritty, and real. It puts a distinctly human face on those the public often fear, misunderstand, and rally against.
Featured are a handful of very different patients: Michael is an intelligent, insightful, high functioning individual, whose guilt over his crime is paralysing. His family shows remarkable compassion, love and support for someone who is consumed by remorse over an act that changed all of their lives forever. One of the women is almost sweet and childlike, yet unpredictable. Another suffers from physical and neurological damage due to an altered-state incident.
Some segments shock and disturb, such as the young woman who experiences a euphoric delight from self mutilation, and our witnessing a patient in extreme restraints as a method of inducing calm. Others are simply sad, yet there is hope.
Viewers may be surprised by their reactions and end up being more than sympathetic towards the patients, their stories, and the events that led up to their admission to Brockville. Likely the impact of Out of Mind, Out of Sight will change more than one opinion about the “criminally insane”.
In the wake of the current political climate and NCR patients like Vincent Lee and Ashley Smith who have received much media attention, Out of Mind, Out of Sight is an eye-opening and educational documentary. Watch it! It is important, and not to be missed. It will be rebroadcast at midnight May 7th, 8 and 10 p.m. May 8th , and 11 p.m. on Sunday May 11th, and be available for streaming on May 8th.
Please also read about Steven Harper's Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act for further insight and information.