characters Bedlam: A Year in the Life of a Mental Hospital 107

free read ✓ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ñ Dominick Bosco

Bedlam A Year in the Life of a Mental HospitalReco and Sam Akbar the entrenched anti reform superintendentBedlam whips us back and forth between feelings of anger at inept and even cruel bureaucrats and administrators and immense admiration for the caring doctors and staff But it makes us care especially for the patients themselves who fight so hard and sometimes triumphantly against such difficult odds but with such valor than their story is ultimately one of hopeFor than two years Dominick Bosco researched this story with the doctors parents and patients of Bedloe the witnesses and participants in the events and conversations recounted hereLike the tales of institutional life in Mary Jane Ward's Snake Pit and Oliver Sack's books on neurological disorders and human behavior Bedlam offers a rare and stirring view of an at once terrible and astonishing world. So weird but revealing

Dominick Bosco ñ 7 read & download

Ge Konopski a psychiatrist forced to choose between his job and involvement in a titanic legal struggle over one of the most vicious mass murderers of all timeThese intimate stories are played out against a chorus of patients whose lives are sad and terrifying but always riveting Their stories break our hearts even as they fascinate us with the strange twistings of the human mind and the odd ways in which life can turn on us allIn Bedlam we meet a gentle teacher who tried to commit a dangerous holdup with an unloaded gun a nun who killed her mother with a crucifix a war hero who is now exiled by madness to a world of terror and a successful businessman who believes he has literally lost his headAnd there is the hospital itself hell and haven Bedloe State Hospital is the prize in a desperate battle between Alex G. This is the true story written novel style of one of the largest mental hospitals in the world “Bedloe” with over 1000 patients and over 2000 staff The book is a rant against a prosperous country that refuses to take proper care of those—primarily schizophrenics—who have been born with defective genes According to the author the number of state institutionalized mental patients in the US increased from 100000 in 1890 to 500000 in 1958 then dropped back to 100000 by the late 80’s This in a country with well over a million schizophrenics alone not to mention depressives and bipolars and paranoiacs and psychopaths With the advent in the 1950s of tranuilizers and other psychoactive drugs the symptoms of many psychotics were brought under partial control so the powers that were decided in the interest of “human decency” read saving money to switch responsibility for most such patients from state hospitals big forbidding institutions to campus like community mental health clinics —considered by many at least officially as a great leap forward and by others as “the Great Catastrophe” because what really happened as everyone knows is that most of the mental patients ended up on the streets—a national scandal Nor can the situation be blamed entirely on evil politicians and slothful andor incompetent psychiatrists the self absorbed middle class is complicit in the arrangement which falls under the heading “don’t bother me with unpleasant details especially ones that might cost me money” Unless of course someone in one’s own middle class family happens to be afflicted in which case mental illness suddenly becomes a BIG ISSUE and WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT DOING MORE ABOUT IT The author acknowledges that the situation is complex A patient “treatment team” consists of a psychiatrist a psychologist a social worker one or “psych techs” a registered nurse a rehab therapist and various specialized therapists This is one reason it costs 100000 a year to maintain each patient—versus for example about 20000 to maintain a criminal in prison Unless you’re an unusual type of person tending to mental patients is thankless work you’re underpaid underfunded under appreciated and bureaucratically harassed for working in a highly stressful and often dangerous environment in a job that ideally reuires great skill great patience and great compassion The stresses account for the high employee turnover in the business—a turnover that tends to destabilize patients Probably most of the best professionals avoid these institutions so you end up with a higher than usual percentage of sloths don’t cares burnouts and incompetents And the problem is further compounded by the knowledge that most of the patients will never be cured the hospital serves largely as a wonky people warehouse A warehouse that maintains its charges by doling out medications Unfortunately medication is no science “meds” have different effects on different people and sometimes different effects on the same people at different times Further psychiatrist turnover andor disorganization often leads to almost random switching of medications over time And what about psychotherapy The overworked psychiatrists have little time for it Anyway most believe that biochemistry is the key today medication without cure tomorrow cure by gene therapy The issue of mental health care is a political hot potato often no one wants to take the responsibility for acting humanely Most politicians and most of the public don’t know andor don’t care enough to allocate the resources needed to rectify the deficiencies in the system—and they play ostrich What problem When a patient’s insurance and family money run out the state is usually appointed her conservator—takes over legal decision making responsibility for the patient leaving the family little say in the matter Since care is expensive patients are often bounced between state and county health organizations or even from state to state Psychotics are routinely put on public buses without a dime in their pockets and shuttled off to other facilities facetiously called “treatment by bus”; some of them never show up Another reason besides expense for this daffy game of musical chairs the mental health community has to maintain the fiction for politicians and the public that many patients get cured so it’s essential to tally a reasonable number of discharges For this reason the same patient is often discharged and readmitted many times—and not necessarily based on her level of wellness The author portrays Bedloe its staff and its patients and the frustrated parents uite vividly and passionately He gets inside the heads of both psychotics and staff If you’re interested in getting a good feel for life in a state mental hospital andor an overview of how the system really works this is the book for you Some of Bosco’s observations The hospital was a small city one thousand patients and over two thousand staff members including psychiatrists psych techs psychologists nurses social workers psych interns teachers therapists hospital workers fire personnel police carpenters and janitors Bedloe had its own post office fire department canteen pharmacy beauty parlor and medical surgical infirmary There were hospital wards for children adolescents and adults There were forensic units for the mentally ill who had committed crimes a unit for patients who were mentally retarded as well as mentally ill a unit for the hearing impaired a unit for neurologically impaired victims of trauma a geriatric unit and special security units for violent patients The fatherlooked bent over weary Alex had seen fathers of the mentally ill acuire this posture an almost ashamed meekness a desire to disappear Although its name suggested a stylishly decrepit bungalow in a fashionably overgrown setting Wilson Cottage was hardly even a separate building It was conceived built and named during an era when the plan was to create nearly self sufficient homelike units within the larger townlike design of the mental hospital The unit itself was not all that physically different from any other at Bedloe There were two dormitories one for men and one for women; two bathrooms; an L shaped dayroom; and a glass walled nursing station Half a dozen staff offices and therapy rooms plus three seclusion rooms were distributed along the hallway that linked the unit with the rest of the hospital Unlike many other wards Wilson Cottage did have its own door to the parking lot and the hospital grounds Wilson Cottage was a so called open unit which meant that most of the patients within certain limits were free to leave the unit without being accompanied by staff Most of themhad jobs around the hospital “I have to tell this to all the new staff They come in here and they’re under the impression that these patients in this ward are on their way out of the hospital You know like they’re real high functioning patients so any day now they’re going to go down and register to vote and never be ill again This ward isn’t like that Now for some of them that’s true For most of them it’s not Most of them don’t get better But they’re not bad enough to be put in some of the back wards” Some of the patients An honest to goodness nun who had killed her mother with a crucifix; a young mother who had stabbed but not killed her newborn daughter; a former registered nurse at the local surgical medical hospital who had become psychotic and anesthetized several patients and delivered them for the wrong operations; a schizophrenic man who was in danger of being discharged because his home county was getting tired of paying for his stay at Bedloe; a pleasant seeming young man who had hitchhiked to the Bedloe Valley from California and killed a man in a bar fight by shoving a beer bottle down his throat; a depressed woman whose husband visited every month to exercise what he believed were his conjugal rights at a local motel At some point she had run away wound up bouncing from one community mental health center to another Maybe she went home during one of her calmer periods Probably not This one was so young and so ill that she probably went off the scale within the first year or two The community health centers would not be able to handle her Many of them had psychiatrists on part time duty at best Finally a center whose resources were already pushed to the limit simply stripped her of identification—if she even had any by that point—and put her on a bus It was done every day Bedloe not only received such cast offs but it also contributed its share back to the flow Dayroom in a back ward The hall opened up into a much larger room a dismal beehive Despite the dark—no lights were on and little came through the windows—the tumult in the room forced Fran back like a blast from a volcano Dozens of men half dressed in pyjamas tops or bottoms men undressed men sloppily dressed in torn filthy clothing paced back and forth in front of her One of them seemed to be silently explaining something to an imaginary person As he paced he whispered and gesticulated over and over with great energy and emphasis Another man kept jabbing the air in front of his face Another clapped his hands There was no organized structure to the macabre dance Every man had chosen a direction different from all the others if even by a couple of degrees and was mechanically following it as if he were on a rail Nobody bumped into anybody else Ward for the violent Kallikak had the same kind of blankness as all the patients in the room A few sat stiffly as though they were strapped to their chairs Then Rosey noticed that a few of the men actually were strapped in Some of these men sat rigidly straining against the leather straps around their wrists ankles and waists Others seemed to slump into the support of the straps The room seemed cloudy smoky though no one was actually smoking Most of the men sat on metal straight backed chairs A few lumbered from one wall to the next Two or three stood menacingly in the corner Rosey recognized the dark stares He had seen them on the faces of men standing on corners in front of bars or other hangouts It was the look of the street the unspecific glaring anger the violence restrained but always ready the wide eyed fear transformed into narrow slits of defiance and rage As happens in any undertaking the size of Bedloe State Hospital it was a natural tendency for the staff to slide into a dull drudgery where only what absolutely must be done was ever attempted There were so many bureaucratic duties that the institution valued than therapy—such as paperwork—that most staff had to step outside normal procedure in order to perform any of the acts that might be described as fundamental to their profession Doc was one who not only swam against the current but also managed to drag several poor souls upstream along with him He stole time for therapy by neglecting paperwork coming in on Saturdays or performing all bureaucratic drudgery in a mechanical thoughtless but speedy manner Of course not all patients were “candidates” for therapysome of the patients were too ill for therapy For some judicious use of medications would enable them to benefit from therapy For others no amount of medication could calm them enough to enable them to carry on a coherent conversation

characters Bedlam: A Year in the Life of a Mental Hospital

characters Bedlam: A Year in the Life of a Mental Hospital 107 ✓ Bedlam is the remarkable and true account of life in a mental hospital It is a poignant story of love courage and humor in a place which is ordinarily hidden from viewBedlam follows the intersecting lives of Alex Greco the medical director whom fights for reform Bedlam is the remarkable and true account of life in a mental hospital It is a poignant story of love courage and humor in a place which is ordinarily hidden from viewBedlam follows the intersecting lives of Alex Greco the medical director whom fights for reform while his own schizophrenic daughter remains beyond his help Doc Rush; a 72 year old maverick psychiatrist whose patient Lily Speere a young suicidal poet is mistakenly released from the hospital; Wendy the no nonsense psychiatric technician who is threatened by a homicidal patient and driven to doubt her own sanity; Fran Channing an embattled woman with a schizophrenic son Walter who has been bounced in and out of the mental health care system; Steven Rose an inexperienced young doctor who falls in love with a beautiful and provocative patient; and Geor. 25 stars BEDLAM was understandably a strange book to read I liked the people in it for the most part and enjoyed the flashes of joy that occasionally illuminated the world of the mental hospital such as the creation of a vegetable garden for the patients to tend and the Christmas party for doctors nurses and patients alike I liked that the author occasionally weighed in on the disgraceful state of mental care or rather lack thereof in this country Treatment by bus ticket is a common theme The money runs out so still very sick patients are given a one way ticket out of town to become someone else's problem Working in a public library I get to see a lot of that firsthand I did not like the writing style however at all This supposedly nonfiction book is written like a novel complete with insights that the author couldn't possibly have had including the details of people's sex lives and the thoughts of severely mentally ill people That really annoyed me Further the author attempts to recreate entire conversations always thorny territory Are we to believe that when a doctor and his colleague experimented with LSD in the 1950s that he uttered a line from the chorus of the acid inspired Beatles song She Said She Said a decade before that song was ever written A nonfiction book can be compelling and readable without these ridiculous flourishes