Thursday, 8 March 2012

Schizophrenia in Harvard in 1980


Summer of 1980, a famous psychiatric hospital in the Harvard group, I was a medical student on a four week elective from Newcastle.

As usual, I asked the doctor in charge of the ward if I could interview a patient to discuss their condition - diagnosis, schizophrenia.

Answer: no you can't speak with him.


You can't speak with him becuase he is paranoid, and you are a man; and paranoia is a fear of homosexual rape, so no male staff are allowed to speak with him.

Me - staring ahead, mouth open, groping for something to say. I could think of nothing to say.

Conversation ended.

This was 1980, Harvard Medical School - paranoia due to fear of homosexual rape?!



  1. Harvard is famous for having a distinguished Business School.

  2. I fear you were the subject of some kind of psychological experiment.

  3. @josh - quite possibly. But the idea was 'mainstream' Freudian psychoanalytic at one time.

  4. Sometimes, one is simply left speechless...


  5. Paranoia is fear gone-to-seed.
    It is non-specific.
    One is met, often, with madness in these times.
    In the unlikeliest of places :)

    Like any threatening variable: storms, earthquakes, disease, it is often better to retreat, cautiously, until more benign conditions prevail.