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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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Page 28:


"Say, boy, you're letting this work get you down. Will I have to commit you as a patient?"


"I think not. I majored in bacteriology at the State University, and I've continued to do a little testing since I've been working here. Incidently, I cultured the dishwater in the dining room, and the findings were the same."


"More human intestinal bacillus?"


"That's right."


"But that can't happen unless human waste enters directly into the milk and the dish-water."


"That's right."


"You say three-quarters of your patients have diarrhea now?"


"Yes. And those who don't have it are the ones who drink little or no milk."


"But this is ridiculous! This hospital is not serving milk that is contaminated by human waste."


"It's ridiculous -- and scandalous. But it's true."


"It can't be."


"Would you like to find out for sure? Would you recognize a human bacillus if you saw one?"


"No. Anyway, like I said, the poor devils won't die from it. And you'd better spend a little more time working on the ward and a little less making bacteria cultures. You're here to take care of the wards, not to go chasing up trouble."


(Based on reports 610, 611 and 612)


Insult to Injury


"If we can love: this is the touchstone. This is the key to all the therapeutic program of the modern psychiatric hospital; it dominates the behavior of its staff from director down to gardner. To our patient who cannot love, we must say by our actions that we do love him. 'You, can be angry here if you must be; we know you have been wronged. We know too, that your anger will arouse our anger and that you will be wronged again and disappointed again and rejected again and driven mad once more. But we are not angry -- and you won't be, either, after a while. We are your friends; those about you are all friends; you can relax your defenses and your tensions. As you -- and we -- come to understand your life better, the warmth of love will begin to replace your present anguish and you will find yourself getting well.'"


Psychiatrist and Author,
Topeka, Kansas.




"The personnel of mental hospitals are, on the whole, gentle and kindly people. . . . Abuses are rare exceptions. Indeed it is astonishing, in view of the dangers to which mental hospital attendants are continually exposed, that instances of physical violence are not more common."


In Mental Illness: A Guide for the Family,
Published by The Commonwealth Fund.


Mr. Miller glanced over the dining room and found everything in order. He beat a spoon against the bottom of a metal tray and called. "First meal! All in for first meal!"


A motley crew of patients began to file into the room, find seats and eat their soup. Some were blind, some crippled; several had both arms and hands bound in camisole restraints. Most knew exactly where they were to sit. When one made a mistake, Mr. Miller seized him by the nape of the neck and the seat of the pants and catapaulted him into the proper chair.


Two other attendants brought up the rear, riding herd on the patients. When all were seated. Miller spotted one patient in camisole who was not supposed to eat until second meal. He picked the patient up from the chair, kicked him in the buttocks, and sent him spinning out the door. "Dope! He'd eat six times a day if we let him," Miller explained.


Meantime the other attendants walked from one camisole patient to another, pouring the soup into their mouths as quickly as the patients could drink it. Miller was filling plates from the steam table. Suddenly his big serv-me spoon descended on Rossini's bald head with a thud. "Eat that soup, you goddam Jew!" he shouted. Every patient in the dining room hunched over farther and scooped food in faster.


Metal plates, containing beets, noodles and frankfurters, were at each place. Hemley was looking out the window dreaming of a mountain waterfall when Miller delivered a heavy blow on the back of his neck. "Eat that food! You hear me?" he shouted. Then in a less antagonistic tone, he spoke to one of the attendants. "Don't bother to try to feed Wilhelm; we'll skip his meals for a few days. He's been too troublesome lately."


Little saucers of applesauce were distributed, and then the attendants began to jerk patients out of their seats and send them to the door -- usually with a hearty shove or a slight kick. Miller yanked a blind paretic out of his chair and gave him a violent shove toward the door. The blind man ran headlong into the door jamb. "Whoops! My aim ain't so good today," laughed Miller.


In a remarkably short time the room was cleared, and the spoons and dishes were run through lukewarm water and replaced on the sloppy tables. Soup that had been setting in an open bucket for a little over an hour was in bowls on the table, and Miller banged a tray and bawled, "Second meal!"


Another group of disheveled, unkempt men shuffled into the room and began to down their soup. An attendant brought up the rear, dragging two reluctant patients. Miller spotted an empty seat. "Where's Hermitzky?" he asked.

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