The Children of Darkness was one of the darkest documentaries of the 1980s. The documentary showcased the less than pleasant side of lack of mental health care in the United States of America for juvenile psychiatry and adult psychiatry. And psychiatry as a whole to an extant. For those who didn’t know, Richard Kotuk filmed and directed a documentary called Children of Darkness which was broadcasted nationally on television in the United States on PBS in 1983. The Children of Darkness documentary explored the lack of mental health care in the United States of America for juvenile psychiatry and adult psychiatry. Many seriously emotionally disturbed youth were shown throughout the documentary.
One of the most noble people in the documentary was Brian McAnally. Brian McAnally was the star of the documentary as he was featured all over the place in regard to this documentary. Richard Kotuk focused much of his time filming Brian McAnally due to his strange behavior inside said documentary. The Children of Darkness documentary explored the lack of lack of mental health care in America for juvenile psychiatry. Many seriously emotionally disturbed youth were shown.
Brian McAnally was first seen punching the backseat of the bus during a trip to the zoo in the beginning of the referenced documentary. He was shown with patients and attendants. During the behavior episode Brian McAnally created on the bus during a field trip to the zoo mainly due to his mental condition and developmental disability called schizophrenia.
The reason why Brian was punching the backseat of the bus is because Brian had a thought in his head a car located behind the bus was following him which led Brian to become paranoid which eventually led him to become physically aggressive with attendants/staff as they tried to restrain Brian McAnally in an effort to calm him down. Despite efforts to calm Brian down, his aggression escalated as his behavior escalated during an attempted restraint by attendants/staff. Brian kept screaming “I want to get off the bus! Let me off the bus!” .
His behavior episode lasted from 2 to 3 minutes. Brian McAnally was eventually secluded to an empty seat on the bus as an attempt by attendants to deescalate his behavior in order to calm him down. Attendants relocated Brian McAnally to an empty seat during an offscreen moment.
2 attendants helped Brian calm down as he cried in anger. As Brian cried away in anger, he eventually calmed down. He was tightly hugged and squeezed by attendants in an effort to comfort Brian. Much of his behavior episode was offscreen as an audio portion of his behavior episode was played. Richard Kotuk filmed other patients, residents, staff, and attendants as the 2 attendants attempted to seclude Brian in an effort to calm his behavior.
Later on in the documentary, Richard Kotuk takes us to the scene at Eastern State School where 2 attendants have to restrain Brian McAnally by laying him down on the bed because he is trying to pull the dresser over on himself. He was tightly restrained by attendants in an effort to calm him down.
Patient Brian McAnally was a product of an unplanned pregnancy. As result of an unplanned pregnancy, Brian was abandoned by his mother when he was 2 years old. He lived with his father until he was 15. (His mother was Lois Marie McAnally and his father was James McAnally.) His father was very much involved in his life. Every weekend, he would take Brian home to his home in Kensington, Pennsylvania. He father was very much active in his life in his roll as a parent when he was alive.
Brian has had schizophrenia since he was 4 years old. Brian McAnally was admitted to Eastern State School in 1979 because his father could no longer handle him or his behavior episodes combined with his self-injurious behaviors on top of aggression. As of 1979, Brian McAnally was a patient of Eastern State School. From 1979 to 1983 is when Brian lived at Eastern State School in Trevose, Pennsylvania as a patient where he lived for 4 years. The first few years Brian did well at the school. However, a months prior to the filming of Children of Darkness, former Eastern State School childcare worker Mark Williams admits Brian has been regressing. Brian had been hallucinating more with no sense of reality.
Psychotropic drugs were used to control his behavior while at Eastern State School. Doctors suggested that Brian be heavily medicated. It was at Eastern State School that psychotropic drugs became a form of therapy for Brian. Such medicine only made his mental condition worse overtime. Former Eastern State School childcare worker John Brooks states Brian has a likeable personality and that he is mildly retarded.
In 1983 after Brian McAnally turned 18, he was moved to a brand new group home which was located 4 blocks away from his fathers home in Kensington, Pennsylvania. Brian was thriving and doing pretty well in his group home better than he did at Eastern State School. He wasn’t as anxious or aggressive despite having been diagnosed with mania and schizophrenia earlier in his life. Later on, he was diagnosed with mental retardation.
Some of you might remember a man being escorted by orderlies. This man was William Calhoun (Billy Calhoun). Billy Calhoun was the patient who was hurting himself so badly from his self-injurious behaviors and being escorted by orderlies around the hospital at the very beginning of the documentary.
Billy Calhoun was another star of the documentary as he was featured all over the place in regard to this documentary. Richard Kotuk focused a portion of his time filming Billy Calhoun due to his strange behavior. Billy Calhoun has a profound case of severe autism.
William Calhoun (Billy Calhoun) was born in 1963. At the age of 4, he was labeled severely mentally retarded. He was then later diagnosed with autism. As a child, Billy was suffering from severe autism. His severe autism caused him to act out in an aggressive manner as he was dangerous around other and himself. His family could no longer handle him or his dangerous destructive behavior.
At the age of 7, he was placed in a state institution called Sagamore Hospital via Sagamore Children’s Hospital. He was more or less abandoned his mother, Mary Calhoun, and family despite that his mother saw him every week until she died. He was in a state of constant panic being unaware of what was going on around him.
During his stay as a patient at the Sagamore Hospital, his self-injurious behaviors worsened as acted more aggressive towards staff. Every 2 to 3 hours, Billy would be “walked” by orderlies around the hospital so his muscles would not atrophy or deteriorate. Billy had attacked hospital staff and orderlies in the past as described in the documentary. Most of the time he was strapped to his bed most of the time during the filming session for this documentary. While at Sagamore Children’s Hospital, Billy underwent intense therapy while being in restraints for 2 1/2 years long.
When he was 19, he was transferred over to South Beach Psychiatric Care Center in Brooklyn, New York. Since then he has stayed at that hospital which is not too far from South Beach Psychiatric Hospital.
Billy Calhoun is still alive. Things have changed. Billy has undergone several behavioral interventions and therapy sessions. Some of his phases eventually passed. The lobotomy and shock therapy never happened. As a result, Billy Calhoun now receives 24 hour care around the clock. He is well cared for.
The self-injurious behaviors and self-destructive behavior is still evident and present. Just to a level that lets him function to the point where he can function to be as aggressive or dangerous as he once was earlier in his lifetime. Billy is now heavily medicated by fair amounts of drugs. Things have changed, but we can never undo the abuse, trauma, pain, suffering, and torture he went through as a child. What happened there is beyond words.
Many seriously emotionally disturbed youth who were students of the infamous controversial private coeducational behavior modification program called “Elan School” were shown throughout the documentary. These students were sent to this behavior modification program because they were using drugs or becoming criminals. They were headed to prison or their deathbeds. Elan School was used as a last resort for behavior modification.
Psychotropic drugs were not used to control their behavior as these children and sound adults who were students did not benefit from psychotropic drugs. Ironic enough since a minority of them were already using drugs.