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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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Suddenly, after a few weeks, Joe's attitude toward Dwight seemed to change. Joe became friendly and invited Dwight into the ward office for a chat every once in a while. But Dwight soon suspected that Joe was leading up to obscene advances. He began refusing Joe's invitations and Joe became resentful again.


One night Dwight went to first supper -- night attendants broke their twelve-hour shift with a meal about midnight -- leaving Joe on the ward alone. But when Dwight reached the outside door, he found it was raining, so he returned to the ward to get his coat. As he went into the big dormitory, he saw charge attendant Joe bending over the bed of a deteriorated patient. His suspicions were confirmed -- Joe was a homosexual.


(Based on report 502)




"While the ward physician is not directly responsible for the ward routine which is carried on by the nursing and attendant personnel, yet his attitude toward his patients will determine more than any other factor the attitude of the nursing personnel toward the patient."


-- GEORGE W. MORROW, M.D., Superintendent, Kankakee State Hospital, Illinois.


"Bright morning, Mr. Pisky, isn't it?"


Mr. Pisky looked up from the bowl of unsweetened cereal he was eating, and blinked at the attendant standing there. A little smile broke on Pisky's face. "Yeah, bright! More cereal?" he asked.


"Sure enough. I'll bring it right over." And the attendant went away smiling, to try to scrape just a little more pasty oats out of the tin.


Those were the first words Pisky had spoken in two weeks. During most of that time he had been so depressed that he had to be told to eat every mouthful. This morning he had gotten out of bed by himself and had dressed himself. (That is, he had done everything but button his shirt -- all its buttons were torn off, and he had let another patient tie it together with a string.) Now he was actually asking for food, and eating it as if he enjoyed it.


As soon as the attendant and his sixty-three patients were back on the ward, Pisky presented himself again. "Say, do you s'pose I could have my glasses and something to read?"


"Sure, you can have this magazine to read. But we'll have to ask the doctor for your glasses. The doc should be along before long, so you watch for him. Okay?"


"Hokay!" said Mr. Pisky.


Pisky had been around long enough -- he had been in the hospital fifteen years -- to know that the doctor didn't spend much time going through the ward. He took up his vigil right at the door of the ward and watched carefully for the doctor's appearance.


The attendant was down at the other end of the ward when Dr. Klemm swept in on his daily dash through the wards. One hour -- ten wards -- seven hundred patients -- not much time.


Pisky stepped up timidly behind the doctor and touched his shoulder: "Please sir ... ."


Dr. Klemm whirled around, pushed Pisky roughly onto a bench and cursed him roundly. "You -- -- -- -- ! Who do you think you are, putting your hand on me?"


Pisky quivered on the bench a moment, slid to the floor and ran for the toilet, where he crouched in a corner, crying.


Dr. Klemm strode out the door at the other end of the ward, muttering: "If I ever get fired or want to leave this hospital, I'll beat hell out of that patient before I go."


(Based on report 283)


Visitors' day was always the most disagreeable day in the week for Miss Ingles. The sight of so many confused and disappointed relatives depressed her, and the shabby way the doctors treated them -- that nearly always made her mad. The worst of it was that Miss Ingles, receptionist and secretary for the four doctors who shared the second-floor office in the Administration Building, usually had to handle the difficult situations the doctors got her into.


She looked at the wall clock and saw that it was already after three o'clock -- still Dr. Grant and Dr. Morrison had not come. Then she looked at the row of mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, brothers and sisters who sat patiently, waiting to see the men who had control over their loved ones. In the big, open office room. Dr. Bander and Dr. Fitch sat at their desks.


Dr. Bander, a seventy-three-year-old woman who had returned to duty only because of the war-caused doctor shortage, had quickly disposed of her visitors. She was so abrupt and impatient with them that they seldom asked to see her. and never stayed longer than necessary. Now she sat glaring at the waiting relatives and listening to Dr. Fitch's interview. Every once in a while she would purse her lips and grunt, "Humph! All nonsense!"


Dr. Fitch was too old for duty, too, but -- except for the fact that he couldn't remember names and was very set in his ways -- he seemed to be doing all right. Every time Dr. Bander made a remark, he stopped talking, clenched his teeth, and then went on.


At last Miss Ingles decided she would have to do something about the waiting relatives. She called Dr. Grant's apartment by telephone. He answered immediately.

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