Wrongfully Admitted to Sunbury Asylum
In 1945, Maraquita Sargeant, a mother of five young children, was admitted against her will to Sunbury Mental Asylum in Australia. Her youngest child, Tony, has spent the last 50 years of his life searching for answers.
Walking the grounds of the now vacant and dilapidated Sunbury, Tony claims his mother was the victim of an era where there were no contraceptives and divorce was not allowed. Having five children already, Maraquita was not willing to give birth again and soon after was admitted. In 1946, she wrote a letter to the governor of Victoria stating she had been “unjustly detained.” The governor responded with a letter to the mental hygiene director and stated the letter “appears to be from a sane person.” The hygiene director’s response can only be described as chilling:
“She is definitely insane and if released would be a threat to certain prominent people’s reputations.”
With the director alerted to Maraquita’s attempt to write the governor, he shipped her to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where she received a lobotomy—a new and experimental procedure at the time that involved separating the front of her brain from the back. The operation was considered a failure. Maraquita spent her time at Sunbury in the sewing room repairing linen and ironing. Despite the injustice, Maraquita remained optimistic and in 1967 she was released. - Continue reading and watch the video at Smithsonian.com.
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