August 29, 2011

one flew over the cuckoo's nest - part I

     We followed the signs to our assigned room.  To enter through the doors, you had to push a button.  To go back out the door, you needed a key.  These weren't designed to keep people out.  These doors were designed to keep people in.  The final door had a sign that said,


     Ooookkkaayyyyy.  They escorted us into a room and a psychologist came in and briefed us.  We were in one of the county psychiatric hospitals.  They had a volunteer patient that was going to come in.  The psychologist would interview the individual to demonstrate what our lecture taught us - how to interview a psych patient.  Unlike our actor patients, these were the real deal.  And unlike our actor patients, there's no set script you can follow.  They're psych patients.  Who knows how they'll present.  As one of our lecturers told us, "I don't consider that my day has started until I've had a patient storm out of the room and slam the door on me."  It's a bit of a mystery as to why our first patient encounters are with hospitalized psych patients but, oh well.  Sink or swim time.
     We hear a key in the door (wait, are we locked in this room?) and it opens.  A woman takes a half step in the room and her eyes quickly pan the conference room.  There are 14, count'em 14 doctors-in-training in white coats sitting around a table.  Not exactly a welcome sight for anybody.  I know that I wouldn't want 14 people assessing me, especially inexperienced students.  In less than a second, she shakes her head sideways, utters, "no way" and scurries out of the room.  That's encouraging.
     The psychologist leaves the room and catches the patient.  We wait a few minutes.  We hear the key in the door again (this door really does lock automatically to keep people out of this room) and the psychologist brings in the patient.  She nervously sits down and proceeds to be intereviewed.  About every two minutes, she puts her hand over her mouth and mutters under her breath, "I need to get out of here."  After the psychologist concludes the interview, she turns to us students and asks us if we have any questions we'd like to ask the patient.  While her words still hung in the air and certainly before anyone could even begin to formulate a question, the patient said quite adamantly, "Uh-uh.  I'm gone."  And she stormed out of the room.  I guess our day had officially started by the criteria above.
     The psychologist without missing a beat turns to us and we start discussing our clinical observations.  After the discussion, the psychologist says to us, "Oh, and her diagnosis?  She's paranoid schizophrenic.  I did not know that until after the fact since she's not my patient."  Why in the world would anyone pick a paranoid schizophrenic to volunteer to be assessed by 14 students???  I got the impression that someone was playing a very cruel joke.

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