Friday, July 2, 2010

A ligature risk

is what the CEO of Spring Grove called a gas lamp chandelier in a picture of the hospital in the 1920's. Electricity was still unreliable. Doctor's operating theatres always had picture windows to let in natural light, in case the bulbs went dark in the middle of a procedure. Procedure.

A veteran of WWII, a former employee of the hospital, told me, "You better get some combat boots."
I said, "Oh, you mean for the tour of the campus?" We were to walk about a mile and to be shown where buildings used to be ( and be warned that sometimes sink holes open up when the earth settles into subbasements.)
"No," he said, "When the Arabs come, those shoes won't cut it." I was wearing two and half inch wedges.

I had some hesitation about repeating this, after thinking about how I presented the homophobic and racist comments of my brother-- that my repeating them was giving them audience.

My reply to the man was, "Oh my." The small circle of people dispersed.

He later said, to the roomful of people as the conference ended, "Go home and have a martini-- don't take Thorazine, that stuff will kill you." He was responding to a speaker that talked about how a woman had had 80 electro shock treatments and a partial lobotomy and was still uncontrollable. She was in the first Thorazine trial and within a year was employed in the community. I don't know how she had any brain left.

It was a full day. I learned that it was the Great Depression that broke taboos about family attachments. Prior to the GD, if you had a schizophrenic aunt, you took care of her at home. This meant a basement, usually. After the GD, people no longer felt shame about giving their relatives to the State. It broke all kinds of codes of behavior.

I saw a "psychodrama theater" from the 70's. It was attached to a laundry building from the 20's and an office building from the 40's. The hospital now uses that mash up of a building as storage. They don't use psychodrama anymore. I'm sure they can't "bill" for it.

The CEO pointed out that the grounds offer the same soothing qualities as back when the patients and the staff played baseball games together. That's something, considering over 60% of the people there are forensic -- court-ordered, and they aren't allowed outside at all...

One last thing. One photo from the 60's featured a doctor measuring out prescriptions. He was smoking a pipe in the pharmacy.

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