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In June 1949, at twenty-three years of age, Allen Ginsberg entered the Psychiatric Institute of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital as part of a plea bargain. Traditionally, scholars have held that this hospitalization was, at best, a hiatus in Ginsberg's creativity and, at worst, led to an attempt by the doctors there to squelch his genius and suppress his homosexuality. Using unpublished hospital records, the present article argues that Ginsberg's time as a patient, while brief and unheralded, allowed him a safe and protected environment in which to experience the chaos that had always shadowed his existence. This period in Ginsberg's life, far from harming him, allowed him to decompensate, recover, and become the poet of Howl.