Thursday, 8 March 2012

Schizophrenia in Harvard in 1980

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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.

Pause.

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?!

(Facepalm).

5 comments:

dearieme said...

Harvard is famous for having a distinguished Business School.

josh said...

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

bgc said...

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

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, one is simply left speechless...

Tschafer

The Crow said...

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.