Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Necessary Evils


A judge comes to the psych hospital at regular intervals for commitment hearings.  For people whose stay is not voluntary, a judge has to review the case, listen to the patient and any interested friends and family, hear from the doctors, and decide to continue the commitment or not.  The proceedings are informal, given the setting and nature of the topic, but the decisions are real and can only be reversed at the next hearing or by appeal.  I tell my patients to wear clean clothes and not pajamas.  Most patients do not have suits or dresses to wear, which is okay, as long as they look like they knew to put themselves together.  There is always that one patient who insists upon wearing five layers of ripped, soiled clothing with colored markings of "Set me free" written on his face.  Oh well.  Commitment predictably extended.

I was retrieving some of my patients from the little court area when I saw a patient from another ward waiting to see the judge.  He was wearing plush reindeer antlers on his head.  This particular patient is out there, but has listened in the past when I told him to dress up.  I asked the attendant why he was allowing the patient to see the judge in such a state.  The attendant answered, "Job security."

Mean.  True but mean.

The other thing that struck me was that most employees express that they cannot ever loose the job, as if it's an inalienable, God-given right.  At least this attendant understood that he is dispensable.

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