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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Creator: Frank L. Wright, Jr. (author)
Date: 1947
Publisher: National Mental Health Foundation, Inc.
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16  Figure 17

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The father went away reassured -- until he actually saw his son, who displayed two black eyes and a nose that looked suspiciously as if it were broken. Both injuries were obviously at least three days old.


The truth about his son was this: He had been locked in a side room almost continuously since his admission five weeks before. He had been permitted to dress and take a short walk around the ward only three times in those five weeks. He had been forcibly placed in a camisole (strait-jacket) five times. He had been injured in a scuffle with an attendant while restrained in the camisole.


(Based an report 1129)




"Segregation if nowhere practiced as it should be . . There can be nothing more discouraging to a young borderline patient than his remaining for months on the same service with a host of demented incontinents."


Speaking for a committee of Medical Doctors in mental hospitals.


A worn-out horseshoe, a stale egg, a box of wet matches, and a broken button, all collected into one box -- that's what Al thought of every time he returned to his ward. Certainly the hundred and ten patients on Ward F had little in common.


Al looked around the day-room and noted the differences:


In age, from eighteen to eighty; in health, from the blind and halt to the alert and burly; in action, from the depressed and immovable to the disturbed and aggressive; in morality, from the sodomist to the "Christer;" in classification, from dementia praecox to senile. One thing only they had in common: they were unwanted on all the other wards of the institution.


For Al himself, this wasn't so bad. The variety made the work interesting. And anyway, he could walk away from the ward in the evening, knowing he didn't "belong." But for Tommy, Al thought it must be terrible.


Tommy had been like any number of these others just two weeks ago. Then his electric shock treatments had begun to bring results. Yesterday he had returned from his shock with his mind as clear as a bell. "What am I doing in here with all these crazy guys?" he had asked.


The puzzled look had not yet left his face. He was walking around the day room now, trying to figure it out. Chris, with whom he had shared sexual perversions during his worst illness, was following him, reminding Tommy of what he had done, and encouraging him to do it again. Finally, Tommy came up to Al. "My God!" he asked, "Am I as crazy as these guys try to make me think I am?"


"You're all right now. Tommy. You've been sick, that's all."


"Can't I get out of this hog-pen, then?" he asked.


Al hoped that he could, but he couldn't do anything about it. "You'll have to ask Dr. Gribb when he comes in "


Tommy watched carefully until the doctor came. Unfortunately it was not Dr. Gribb, who was giving Tommy his shock therapy, but Dr. Benton, the assistant superintendent.


"When am I going to get out of here and go home doctor?" he asked.


"Why? What difference does it make when you get out? You have nothing to do anyway."


"But, doctor, I have a wife and two nice children at home. I want to be with them."


"Aw, what are you so excited about? She's probably forgotten all about you by now and is running around with some other man."


Tommy turned and walked away. Dr. Benton chuckled, and went on with his duties. Al was pleased to see that the puzzled expression was still on Tommy's face. Later, Tommy came up to Al, looking a little sheepish and ashamed. "I guess I can see the doctor when I go for treatment tomorrow," he said.


"Yeah, that's the best thing."


"You know, I guess I'm not so very well yet," Tommy said, shaking his head. "I took that crazy loon to be a doctor!"


(Based on reports 985, 1121 and 1124)




"Idleness in institutions is bad. . . . Often the measure of an institution lies in what it gives its inmate population to do. . . . The important thing is that every person participate in some way in the program, and that work be selected primarily for its benefit to the inmate and only secondarily for its benefit to the institution."


in Milwaukee Journal.


"Miss Adams, that new girl you sent down to me is terrible. I just can't have her working on my ward at all."


"Why, I've heard very favorable reports about Miss Levin's work! What's wrong with her?"


"She's always making trouble for me. You'll have to transfer her to another ward."


Miss Adams, supervisor of the women's side of the hospital, had listened to many complaints from Mrs. Beaver. Mrs. Beaver had been an attendant at the hospital for fifteen years, and she ruled her ward with an iron hand. She was a stickler for neatness and order; nothing was ever out of place on her ward, and very few people could work with her successfully.


"What kind of trouble has she been making for you?" Miss Adams asked, wanting to get to the bottom of the matter.


"She's always making a mess. Last week she brought a dozen magazines on the ward and gave them to the patients. Of course, they were all over the floor and tables in a minute."

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