Mr-Feelgood-Stuff –  “Take Your Pleasure Seriously”



Forest Haven is arguably one of the most infamous institutions but for all the wrong reasons. Built in Laurel, Maryland, in 1925, Forest Haven was geared towards teaching patients life skills, including tending crops, sowing, and milking cows. It was originally known as the “District Training School for the Mentally Retarded” and started with good intentions, in fact, it was hailed as being state of the art. However, it wouldn’t be long until funding was cut and abuse and violence would be rife within the institution.

In 1974, orphans from a nearby orphanage that closed ere sent to Forest Haven. While these children had no mental disabilities, they were treated as patients. At an age when environment can have an impact on a child’s upbringing, it isn’t much surprise these children soon became products of their upbringing. At one point, Forest Haven had over 1000 patients. The director even estimates that 1/3rd of the patients didn’t belong there and had just been sent there by their families as they had become a burden.

There were accounts of physical, mental, and even sexual abuse at the institute. Patients were often locked in rooms completely devoid of furniture in nothing other than a diaper. Beds were often stripped of bedding and soaked in urine. Countless patients died from choking on food as they were often force fed while lying down. When a patient died, they would be passed through a basement morgue before being buried in a mass unmarked grave. Hundreds of patients died over the years and one report even said that many were subjected to human experimentation.

Forest Haven eventually closed in 1991 at the orders of a federal judge.


On the left is a letter written by serial killer Donald Harvey, also known as the “Angel of Death.” Harvey operated from 1970-1987 in Ohio and Kentucky. Due to his position as an orderly at various hospitals, he was able to claim the lives of 37 people- though he confessed to killing more- through methods such as smothering them with pillows, poisoning them with substances such as morphine and arsenic, and depriving patients of oxygen. When asked why he killed, Harvey replied: “well, people controlled me for 18 years, and then I controlled my own destiny. I controlled other people’s lives, whether they lived or died. I had that power to control. After I didn’t get caught for the first 15, I thought it was my right. I appointed myself judge, prosecutor and jury. So I played God.“