Bellevue is a mythic place in the collective memory of New York City. The narratives about Bellevue have seeped into our culture. It was the inspiration for the film, “The Lost Weekend.” It is mentioned in Alan Ginsburg’s poem “Howl”. At various times people such as Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsburg and Charles Mingus were committed there. It is a brand, unique in America. And as a brand owned and operated by NYU Medical School, NYU has been working hard to upgrade Bellevue’s reputation.
It is our version of Bedlam, London’s infamous hospital for the insane. (By the way, the location of the original Bedlam is now a hotel. I stayed there one night a few years ago. All night long I was haunted by strange dreams).
Now the head of the psychiatric Emergency Room has written a book about her experiences at Bellevue. I highly recommend it for anyone who lives or has ever lived in New York.
From a branding perspective, Bellevue is a perfect example of how the reputation is influenced by other people and not by the hospital itself. Movies, stories, newspaper articles, tv reports have all shaped the reputation of Bellevue. There is only a limited amount that the hospital itself, or NYU, can do. That doesn’t mean that they should do nothing. It is a conversation, a dialog, and NYU needs to actively participate in it — including social media — to help people co-create a more positive image.
One last fun fact, Bellevue has it’s own literary magazine! It is fitting with so many famous writers having spent time there. It brings to mind the title of a poem “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz, a former psychiatric patient.
So this my plug for the book. You can also get it on a Kindle. But the downside is that you can’t ask the author to autograph the Kindle. Full disclose, I received no promotional considerations, nor payments, for this blog post.