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Danvers State Lunatic Hospital in Massachusetts - Stories of a Patient, Marie Balter, Part 7


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Marie Balter was a patient at Danvers State Asylum for many years. Almost all of her life she battled with mental illness. Her symptoms and illnesses were misdiagnosed by her attending doctors. She suffered through improper treatments and dangerous medicines given her by her attending doctors.

Her doctors at Danvers meant well. They tried their best to help her; however, mental health illnesses were much misunderstood in the 1940s and 1950s. Research was limited and there were actually very few treatments available. It was a sad time for those who suffered mental and emotional disturbances.

Marie was one who probably survived because she was always secretly and openly asking God for deliverances. She held strong spiritual beliefs, which probably was one of her greatest strengths throughout all her life.

Without God's mercy, in my opinion, none of us have a chance at surviving any kind of ordeal in our lives. Marie Balter, in my opinion, was one who received God's mercy. Scripture tells us that God will show mercy to which he chooses. We have to find that favor with God before he bestows his mercy upon us is how I feel. Marie was one who touched the throne of God during her suffering and received divine help. God is never far from those who are cast aside, and those who are afflicted. His ears are open to the cries of those who trust him in and diligently seek after him. He is nigh to the broken-hearted.

As I begin writing about Marie, I read the preface on her book, or the book she and Richard Katz wrote together, and I am astonished to read about a spiritually-oriented approach that contrasts sharply with the approach that now dominates Western biomedical health care. I personally have also been a recipient of God's mercy and found healing through finding favor with God and receiving his mercy. Kindred spirits definitely connect with each other.

It further astonishes me that I am just now introduced to Marie Balter for the first time through her book and other sources. Kindred spirits connect with one another. God works in so many mysterious ways, and his timing is always just the right time. He is never late and never early, but always on time. I feel there is a purpose for this introduction, but at this point in time, I have not the slightest idea what that purpose is. We never know exactly what God is up to at any given time. Perhaps he is teaching me something for my own personal benefit. I believe in combining medicines and other treatments with spirituality to find solutions to physical and mental illnesses. This belief has served me well.

I hold a deep compassion for those who suffer with mental and emotional illnesses. The spirit of God has a mind of its own, a college of its own, that is taught freely to any man or woman who desires to know. I am a student in that college. God's ways are simple and so easy. The ways of man sometimes are a constant struggle, full of complex formulas, definitions and often confusion. I believe this is because the flesh is always warring against the spirit of God, trying to convince us that God does not exist and his spirit does not exist and there is no hope to be found in God.

I also believe, according to his will, he combines formal education with his wisdom to accomplish his purposes. He gives us according to our desires, but also according to our abilities as well as according to his divine will. To one, he may send to the highest degree offered in this world. To another, he may never allow a traditional and formal education. To another, he may allow some formal education combined with spiritual knowledge. In his realm, he sets us in as he sees fit, according to our desires and according to our abilities. But to those who turn against God, to their own devices does he allow them to be. We all congregate together at this time, but in another time, there will be separations.

The flesh can only go so far with us, giving us this treatment and that treatment, this and that kind of medicine, but God can go with us even until the end of our life and as we suffer in the flesh, if we know God, he is there suffering right along with us, waiting to give us a helping hand, if we can touch him with our tears and the feelings of our infirmities.

Another belief I have about God is that he has to be referenced as the “almighty power, " and no other power beneath him is greater than he is. He wants us to believe in him in this manner. If we place all our trust in man's medicine and science, we can do well, but we can do even greater and better, if we acknowledge and believe that God is still the ultimate power who decides if we actually recover or not.

I believe Marie survived all man's treatment (and I believe the treatment was given her to try and make her better, not to hurt or abuse her) because deep within her she also believed God was present with her and this created a treatment plan that eventually overpowered all others and set her free. God knew Marie or “Pat" (was her birth name) believed he was the almighty power. God was the foundation she stood upon.

I believe Marie touched God many times with her tears and with the feelings of her infirmities, until he was moved so greatly to deliver her from her torments and give her enough understanding to teach others how to do the same.

I also believe sometimes God uses people as examples to help teach others about his healing and saving grace. As that example, we might have to suffer many things, getting us into the right condition and shape to become that instrument or vessel to teach others how to become whole and how to receive healing.

If we allow God, he will be the potter and we will become his clay. He will mold us and shape us into the kind of a vessel he needs to use for other mankind. He has his vessels stationed all over the world. Though we might suffer at times, there are also many rewards, and deliverances from adversity.

Jesus Christ is our mediator and when we are in trouble, if we can cast our cares upon him, and lay them at his feet, Jesus has the power to carry those burdens with us and for us and take them onto the father in heaven, the father of light, who has the power to deliver us from all sorts of torments. Jesus is never above the feelings of our infirmities, but is willing to show us mercy during these times, while often, other people and especially during the golden age, the general population seemed to look down on the mentally ill. They were a group of people that others wanted to forget about, just write them off as if they did not exist because their illnesses interrupted the lives of other people. It seems many people in those days were committed for very minimal types of behavior.

I think God has worked on that problem through the years using his vessels wherever he could. While those poor old ladies were crying and walking up and down the corridors, half naked at Danvers, and in other mental institutions, God was looking on and was in distress just the same. All through the years, God has tried to find ways to rectify the problems of mankind. Mental illness has not been left out of the arrangements. With physical problems, we can die and it's over. With mental problems, we are as if dead, but still alive.

Like Marie, some of those people have had to experience almost the pits of hell, in order to come forth and be a spokesperson on behalf of this population of sick and afflicted people. And what was her reward? It was deliverance.

Others diligently research and experiment until they have come up with many different kinds of medicines to help the mentally ill as well. All things work to the good for them that believe in God. Even though our world seems so wicked and is full of many evil things, there are still those who believe in God who will work to the good rather than to evil.

And maybe it was not even Marie's real mother who just abandoned her. Perhaps God called for the release of Marie from her real mother to begin suffering those things that would later make her an appropriate vessel to help others who suffered emotional and mental illnesses. Perhaps Marie was already suffering some of those trials before the real mother gave her up for adoption. God may have created a pathway out, hopefully leading to a greater purpose if Marie would answer the calls. I feel like she said yes to the calls of God.

God knows them that will worship him in the spirit and in the truth and those he will seek after. God's strength is many times manifested through the weak. We sometimes have to be made extremely weak before we can become strong.

Marie seemed to have a playful side to her even in her older years, a child-like spirit. I can hear it come through her words in the book, and saw and heard it in her videos. God says except we become as little children, we will in no way enter into the kingdom of God.

Marie Balter rests now, but when she awakes, it will be as if she lay down to sleep for the night. I feel she will awaken in the first resurrection at the sound of the trumpet when all the dead in Christ will arise and go up to meet him in the air.

I do not know the traditional beliefs of the Catholic, which is what she was religiously, but I do know God's elect will be pulled from all walks of life and from every type of religion, every race and every culture.

When I saw her picture on the tombstone, I felt she had ran her course, finished her duty for Christ and now lay waiting for a new existence in eternal life. I know there are other beliefs about what happens to people once they die in the flesh. This is just mine.

And so far as suicide is concerned, it is not a way out of trouble, but a door that opens up to eternal torment in the life still yet to come for us all. We have to stand through our trials and tribulations before we can earn the ultimate prize of “rest, " and we have to acknowledge that God is the almighty power to help us to stand.

I feel also that once this thing is all over for sure, we will all know for certain what God's plan were and what they are forevermore. We all now look through a mirror and just see ourselves, but one day, we will be known even as Christ knew us in this day.

Elijah was a great old prophet of God in the old Bible. One time he laid in the streets for days as if dead, acting out revelations of God. The people in his land that passed by him thought he was “crazy. " However, he was a very powerful servant/prophet of God. He was so powerful that one time he prayed to God and the fire came down. . . . . there was a man in the olden Bible, and Elijah was his name, he prayed to God, and the fire came down. . . . .

We should never underestimate the powers of “prayer, " nor should we laugh and ridicule those who do. God will get the last laugh, and it definitely will be on you! He says, “And when their calamities come, I shall laugh at them. "

According to her book, “Marie Balter's courage, hope, and deep spiritual commitment led her to recovery from a twenty year struggle with devastating mental illness and also to a distinguished career in the field of mental health. She was President of the Balter Institute, a nonprofit community mental health treatment, education, and research facility aimed at developing a sense of hope and vision for those whose lives are affected by mental illness. She earned her Master's degree from Harvard University and her Honorary Doctorate from Salem State College. "

Continued in Part 8

Source: “Nobody's Child, " by Marie Balter and Richard Katz

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Written by: Connie Limon. For more information about the history of, visiting and living in Massachusetts visit: To submit articles and find a variety of FREE reprint articles visit


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