Monday, June 25, 2018

Comments by Mike Alvarez

Showing 10 of 10 comments.

  • Your comment about the assumption of sexual interest in any patient contact just brought back a memory long forgotten.

    One afternoon in the dayroom, my friend ‘Tamara’ came out of her 15-minute meeting with her psychiatrist, looking very confused and disturbed. I asked her what was bothering her, and–I kid you not–she said that Humpty Dumpty, the egg-shaped doctor, inquired how often she masturbated.

    To this day, I fail to see how that has anything to do with her healing/recovery. In this particular case, the doctor is the one with (as you so perfectly put it) “messy stuffy” inside of themselves–not my dear ‘Tamara’. What a sick bastard that man was.

  • It’s unfortunate that the staff member who treated “patients” as equals no longer works there. I hope that she has not become jaded by the industry, and that she continues to touch the lives of others. Of the staff members working in the hospital I was in, the most compassionate were the undergraduate nurses-in-training in their late teens/early twenties. I’d like to think that time did not erode their compassion.

  • Thank you for the heartfelt words. I’m actually lucky to have met a few mental health practitioners who are overflowing with compassion and empathy, but you won’t find them within the walls of sanatoria, and they are often criticized for lacking “objectivity” (as if humanity and objectivity are mutually exclusive).

  • You know, I didn’t even think about the implications of that staff member’s statement. It’s as if patients’ lives were inconsequential once they were out of the revolving door of the mental health system. But yes, I have a lot of goals that I am striving to achieve, and have mercy on the fools who stand in my way! 🙂

  • Thank you for reading my essay. While the hospital was cold and dreary (literally and figuratively), I am also thankful I didn’t end up someplace worse, and especially grateful for the warmth that emanated from the other “patients.” But I do agree that there has to be a better way, one that ensured the safety of “patients” while respecting their autonomy as human beings.

  • Thank you, Steve, for reading my piece, and for the kind words. I agree that the notion of “boundaries” has become an excuse for depriving others of empathy, and for exercising paternalistic control over those “others.” It’s terrible enough that patients/inmates cannot get hugs from staff, as Stephen points out, but it’s even worse when patients can’t touch one another. As you say, genuine human contact is a true antidote to so-called mental illness, and yet, in defiance of logic, human contact is denied within institutions that purport to administer care.

  • The groups were always boring, if not insulting. In addition to groups on the food pyramid and on drinking 8 glasses of water per day, there were groups where we were told what the symptoms of major “mental illnesses” were, as if we didn’t have first-hand experience of them. I’m glad that you, too, found camaraderie and hope in your fellow inmates, and that you were able to emerge from the horrors of state hospital. Thank you for sharing your story, and for reading my piece.

  • Thank you for reading my piece, Stephen. I’m so glad that a young man not unlike my “Glenn” (a pseudonym, of course) entered your life at the right moment and told you everything was going to be alright. Even though it has been a decade since my time in the hospital, I still vividly remember the good folks I met there, and I will cherish my memories of them always.