Camarillo State Hospital was the most famous psychiatric institution in California's history.The hospital closed in 1997. Due to the proximity to the media center of Los Angeles, the hospital has been referred to in movies, television, and music.

Much of the 1948 film The Snake Pit, starring Olivia de Havilland, was filmed here.

Some famous persons suffering from mental illnesses, tuberculosis, or detoxing from drugs or alcohol stayed there to recover in Ventura County's mild climate.

Jazzman Charlie Parker's "Relaxin' at Camarillo," was written while he was detoxifying after a heroin addiction, as a tribute to the facility.

The song "Camarillo" by punk outfit Fear is also written about the facility.

The band Ambrosia released a brilliant song called "Ready for Camarillo" on their 1978 "Life Beyond L.A." album. "Ready for Camarillo" also appeared as the single B side of their hit "How Much I Feel." The insightful lyrics of this song have always resonated with me, most notably during times of extreme stress and profound (read: suicidal) depression.

In a sincere attempt to offer a little bit of what has comforted me to others, Ambrosia's lyrics follow below. May they serve you well.

I'm 'bout ready for Camarillo
My head is goin' fast
I'm like some ship out on the raging sea
that's losing its main mast.

Can't find my direction,
my thoughts are so confused.
My problem's that there is no easy way
to heal the soul that's been abused.

Tough to find the difference
between ghosts and reality.
Who can tell me what's my name
I mean, who is really me?

In my dreams, it seems so simple,
such an easy way to be.
I'm gonna lose myself in someone else
just to find that way to me,
find that way to me.
tgcyndi tgcyndi
36-40, T
Aug 10, 2010