Stephen Seager knows he could lose his job, but he doesn’t care. He didn’t ask his employer’s permission to write Behind the Gates of Gomorrah, an account of the rampant and unchecked violence that Seager says he’s both witnessed and experienced as a psychiatrist at California’s Napa State Hospital. The forensic facility, the second-largest in the country, houses “the school shooters, the James Holmeses, and Jeffrey Dahmers of the world,” as Seager puts it. Nor did he warn the hospital that the book is being published this week.
“I want their honest response,” he told me over the phone from his home in northwest California. “We’re getting the shit kicked out of us and no one cares. Not just the staff, the patients. And they can’t leave at the end of the day—they have to live there. If this stops one of them from getting beaten, it was all worth it.”
In his book, Seager describes his first year at one of Napa State Hospital’s high-risk units: a fenced-in “secure treatment area,” reminiscent on the outside of a “sprawling prisoner-of-war-camp in a World War II movie,” and on the inside of the fictional Baltimore State hospital depicted in The Silence of the Lambs. more