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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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"But what if the doc got sore at you sometime? Couldn't he put you in a hot spot then?" Stevens asked.


"I don't worry about that. The hospital takes care of things pretty well. They do their own autopsies. The coroner takes the hospital's word for everything. And they don't make any check on the amount of non-narcotic drugs we give. Anyway, the doc doesn't care about losing a few patients."


"How about yourself? Don't you feel bad about doing such a thing?"


"No, why should I? He was a hopeless case, always causing trouble. He's better off dead."


He seemed to be a pretty smart fellow. Why was he getting doped up, anyway?"


"He was suicidal. Lord, we didn't want him committing suicide on us, did we?"


"He's dead now."


"Yep. And there are two more who might just as well be dead." Bradley nodded toward two of the noisiest, most talkative patients on the ward.


Stevens looked at the two patients. "Do you have sedation orders on them?"


"Sure. I complained to the doc about the trouble they're causing, and he wrote out a 'p.r.n.' on them."


For months Stevens had been trying to get Bradley to change his attitude about giving sedation to patients. He was certain that at least a dozen young fellows had died unnecessarily on the ward, and that twice that many older men had been doped to death. He had tried to do something about it by talking to the doctor in charge, but had been discouraged. Now, suddenly, a new plan of approach occurred to him.


"You mean that in a couple of weeks both those patients will be helplessly on their backs, possibly dead?"


"I wouldn't say a couple of weeks. But a month or so ought to do it,"


"Well, look, Bradley. Let's try an experiment on them. Let's give them as little barbital as we can -- only give them a shot when we absolutely can't control them any other way. You think they'd be better off dead. I'm not so sure. Let's see where they'll be in a month's time."


Bradley agreed, partly because he thought it would prove his case, and partly because his conscience had grown uneasy under Stevens' constant questioning.


At the end of a month, one of the patients was still on Ward D, still a noisy trouble-maker. The other was on a front ward, with a good chance of going home soon, recovered.


Bradley was convinced. From that time on, he let a greater Power than himself determine who "might just as well be dead."


(Based on report 1284)




"Rules and regulations about treating patients kindly have no effect upon ward personnel, unless it is evident that the supervisor and superintendent support these rules wholeheartedly through their own actions and attitudes."


Legal Director,
National Mental Health Foundation.


Attendant Alden sat on the porch keeping guard. All the patients except Blozo were out in the enclosed yard. Blozo sat on a bench near Alden. A worker-patient began to sweep the porch. As he came near Blozo, Alden yelled:


"Blozo, get your lazy hulk off that bench. Let the man sweep." Blozo didn't move.


Alden seized the inch-wide restraining strap at his side, leaped on Blozo and beat him on the face and head, shouting, "Get up! Mind me, you -- !"


The patient still didn't move. Then Alden noticed that be was strapped to the bench and couldn't move.


"You fool, why didn't you tell me?"


"You put me here," said Blozo.


"Well, you didn't get anything you didn't deserve."


"I'll ask the doctor about that."


"You tell the doc about this and I'll beat you within an inch of your life."


Blozo knew that might be true. Nevertheless, he met the doctor at the door when he came in later that morning, and began to tell him what had happened and what threats had been made. Alden came up with his strap in his hand and said, "I told you you'd get it if you told the doc," and without a moment's hesitation, he began beating Blozo about the face and bead again.


The doctor, without a word, turned on his heel and stepped out the door.


Alden then stripped Blozo of his clothes, gave him an excessive dose of epsom salts, and strapped him in bed. Blozo lay there for a full day and night, naked and beaten in his own filth.


(Based on reports 1334 and 1342)


"If you can't keep that patient quiet, bring him in here. I'll shut him up."


"I can keep him in the chair, but I can't stop his noise."


"Come on! Bring him to the shower."


Dan, merely an assistant on the ward, followed the directions of the charge attendant. Mr. Sage grabbed the patient as soon as he entered the shower room and pushed him into a corner. "Take your clothes off," he ordered. "You're going to get the coldest shower you ever had."


The patient refused, and started to run out the door. Mr. Sage picked up a wooden-handled toilet plunger and struck the patient three blows on the head. The force of the last blow broke the plunger. He then kicked the patient in the groin, and pushed him to the floor. Dan stood by, stupefied by the performance.


The following day, the nurse noticed bruises on the patient's head and asked that an accident report be made out by both attendants on the ward. Mr. Sage told Dan to report that the patient had fallen against a radiator. But Dan reported the truth.

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