Considering all the treatment methods used at Mclean Hospital, harsh physical treatments were rarely productive. Methods such as seclusion, ice-baths, Electro-shock therapy, and even the Hospitals atmosphere itself can make one wonder how anyone came out of there better than they went in. It seems odd that people teetering on the edge of sanity were subjected to such horrible treatments. Although such treatments sometimes worked, it in no way outweighs the horrible side effects that usually happen. One of these treatments is seclusion.
It is as simple as it sounds but the side effects were not. Not only are the patients totally alone for however many days the guards wanted, but they are stripped of basically everything they have except clothing. It is more of a punishment than a treatment. If a patient acts out in any way or ran away for a day or two, off to seclusion they would go. When taking mentally unstable patients and putting them in solitary confinement all they can do is sit there and think crazy thoughts; so when they come out they were usually like zombies.
“One of the worst things we watched, though, was Lisa coming out of seclusion two days later. ” (Page 21). How can that help anyone? Another type of treatment used is wrapping a patient in freezing cold sheets. It is possible, by a far stretch of the imagination, this could be used to calm down patients. If hypothermia is what made people sane, this should do the trick. The last thing about this is that, when the body gets cold, the immune system get weaker. It seems like they wanted patients to get physically sick too; maybe the nurses get commission on medication.
The worst treatment used is electro shock therapy, also known as ECT. This is when one is shocked by strong amounts of electricity, repeatedly, for however long the doctors decided to keep the patients there. There are a few incidences when ECT actually worked and completely cured a patient, but these were few and far between; the truth of the treatment is much worse. “In fact, the changes one sees when electroshock is administered are completely consistent with any acute brain injury, such as a blow to the head from a hammer.
In essence, what happens is that the individual is dazed, confused, and disoriented, and therefore cannot remember or appreciate current problems. The shocks are then continued for a few weeks (sometimes several times a day) to make the procedure ‘take,’ that is, to damage the brain sufficiently so that the individual will not remember, at least for several months, the problems that led to his being shocked in the first place. The greater the brain damage, the more likely that certain memories and abilities will never return.
Thus memory loss and confusion secondary to brain injury are not side effects of electroshock; they are the means by which families (perhaps unwittingly) and psychiatrists sometimes choose to deal with troubled and troublesome persons” The side effects are quite extreme. The treatments could totally destroy certain parts of the brain, which obviously would not help, but would take away any sanity one still had. People would lose their memory, lose their personality, and lose any hope of freedom they might have had.
If you destroy the mind of an insane person who is in the hospital because they are a danger to society and themselves, what do they have to look forward to? The last of the treatments is being in the hospital itself. Aside from the Harsh Physical treatments, all one would have is hospital life. Just imagine being told that people would help, and all they did was take away any freedom a person had. “I’d like to see how you’d manage this place, never going outside, never BREATHING fresh air, never being able to open your own fucking window?.. how the fuck would you manage, hunh?
“(page 80). First of all, they take away basically every possession they had, belts, scissors and nail clippers (“sharps”), shoe-laces and whatever else the hospital staff thinks a patient could use to hurt themselves or others. They would even clip patients’ nails because they might cut themselves. Another thing they did was “checks”. This just annoyed patients, having to be checked on like they were two years old (though some of them were in their mind). If there was ever a time they wanted to be alone they could not, not for more than five minutes anyway.
“Click, swish, “checks,” swish, click: another five minutes of life down the drain. And spent at this place. ” (page 54). Patients’ bathing had to be supervised too, probably so they would not drown themselves. They had to get specific permission to use a razor or scissors if they wanted to shave. One also needed specific permission to smoke because lighters were not allowed and a patient could burn oneself with a cigarette. Even more trivial was the fact that they needed a guard to open a window.
This seems stupid because the windows were covered in a thick screen and all windows were barred. Even if a patient could open ones’ own window they could not jump out of it; the windows probably were not even big enough. How can ones’ life improve when people take away the very reason people live, freedom. Considering all the things a patient was put through, it is hard to believe people came out better, or is it. When, or if they would get to leave and are not too mentally destroyed to function in society, anything will seem better.
After all the hel, these people were put through freedom seemed all the much better. It seems that after being there, anything is better than hospital life. Think of it this way, starve a man half to death, feed him nothing but bread and water, then give him a Ritz cracker. That will be the best cracker that man has ever eaten. On the opposite end of the spectrum you give a person Ritz Crackers everyday for the rest of his life, and he will despise them. The Hospital did not treat people as much as it did make them appreciate the society they were locked off from.
This is why hospitals like this can thrive; the only treatment they have is appreciation for the life they take away from a patient. WORKS CITED PAGE Quote #1- Page 21-FREEDOM- Girl, Interrupted Quote #2- Page 80-SECURITY SCREEN-Girl, Interrupted Quote #3 Page 54-CHECKS-Girl, Interrupted Girl, Interrupted- By Susanna Kaysen Copyright 1993 Originally published by Turtle Bay Books, A Division of Random House, INC, NY 1993 Web Pages . www. antipsychiatry. org Article on——- Psychiatry’s Electro-convulsive Shock treatment A Crime Against Humanity —Lawrence Stevens, J. D.