Marilyn Monroe’s Eerie Letter From Inside A Psychiatric Hospital

If ever there was an extraordinarily complex life, Marilyn Monroe’s was it. A producer, actress, model, and singer, Marilyn Monroe’s life was marked with the highest of highs and bottoming out in the lowest of the lows. Ushering in the age of the “blonde bombshell” from the late ’50s into the early ’60s, beginning with her appearance in Playboy Magazine’s first issue, Monroe spent the last decade of her life playing in some of the biggest roles of her career: “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “How to Marry a Millionaire” and “Some Like It Hot.” By the time of her death, Monroe had appeared in 29 films and won three Golden Globes.

While Monroe’s professional life was rocketing through the stratosphere, her personal life was falling apart. Equally famous for her private life, as well as her career, Monroe was married to former New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, both of which ended in divorce. Monroe suffered from physical problems, as well as emotional. According to History Net, Monroe suffered from terrible menstrual periods caused by a diagnosis of endometriosis. As far back as 1953, Monroe began taking barbiturates with champagne, to help deal with the pain, as well as her overall anxiety. A year later, Monroe would ominously joke during an interview: “When you’re young and healthy you can plan on Monday to commit suicide, and by Wednesday you’re laughing again.” She also referred to herself as “the kind of girl they found dead in a hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hands,” via Bookolage.

Breakdown ahead

In late 1961, after spending much of the year filming the movie “The Misfits” with Clark Gable, it was clear Monroe was abusing prescription drugs (via Open Culture). The stress of filming in the Nevada deserts, where temperatures would easily rise above 100 degrees, coupled with the sudden death of co-star Clark Gable a week after filming wrapped and the announcement of Monroe and Arthur Miller’s divorce, caused Monroe to casually mention to one of her psychoanalysts, Dr. Marianne Kris, that she was considering throwing herself out of her 13th-story apartment window (via H2H). A few days later Kris convinced the actress to admit herself into the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic for a “rest cure.”

According to Vanity Fair, what actually occurred during her time in the hospital was anything but restful, however. Monroe arrived at the facility wearing a fur coat. Signing herself in under the name of “Faye Miller” (via H2H), Monroe was quickly escorted to a locked, padded cell. Taking her as psychotic, the staff ignored Monroe’s pleas, instead stripping her of her clothes, forcing her to bathe, and threatening her with a straight jacket until she was finally dressed in a hospital gown. Worse yet, though, were the physical abuses. Monroe recounted that during her time in the hospital, one of the staff’s psychiatrists gave her a physical exam that included being examined for lumps in her breasts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact theCrisis Text Lineby texting HOME to 741741, call theNational Alliance on Mental Illnesshelpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit theNational Institute of Mental Health website.

A plea for help

In the three days she was locked in the hospital, Monroe detailed her experience in a six-page letter to her other therapist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. In the letter, Monroe details the abuse she suffered: “There was no empathy at Payne-Whitney — it had a very bad effect — they asked me after putting me in a ‘cell’ (I mean cement blocks and all) for very disturbed depressed patients (except I felt I was in some kind of prison for a crime I hadn’t committed).” Desperate to get out, Monroe did whatever she could, including protecting herself. As she recounts in her letter to Greenson: “I picked up a light-weight chair and slammed it … against the glass intentionally. It took a lot of banging to get even a small piece of glass — so I went over with the glass concealed in my hand and sat quietly on the bed waiting for them to come in,” quoted via H2H.

After getting wind of the situation, Monroe’s second husband, Joe DiMaggio, went to the hospital to get her out. Despite the staff’s objections, saying that Monroe was a “very, very sick girl” and had been that way for a long time (via Mamamia). DiMaggio was having no part of it, however. According to The Vintage News, after securing her release from the hospital, Monroe and DiMaggio headed to Florida where DiMaggio was working as a bat coach for the New York Yankees. Less than a year later, Marilyn Monroe would be found dead in her apartment due to an overdose of barbiturates.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact theCrisis Text Lineby texting HOME to 741741, call theNational Alliance on Mental Illnesshelpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit theNational Institute of Mental Health website.

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