Sunday 18 – Monday 19 March 2018
Marion Forsyth – 1963
Marion, do you know why you’re here?
Not by choice.
No, it’s not by choice. I doubt that anyone in Sandhills is here by choice.
I can’t imagine why.
There’s no need for sarcasm, Marion.
It’s all I have left.
Why can’t you give a direct answer to a question?
Why can’t you ask an appropriate question?
You’re stonewalling me.
You asked me to speak as if I were one of your patients, so I am. Look, Dr. Fenelli, my tutor suggested I spend some time here to see if psychiatry is really what I want to pursue. He recommended you as the man who is at the forefront of everything to do with psychiatry. I’m not here to be analysed, I’m here to experience the reality of working in this field.
Okay, fine. What are your thoughts so far?
There’s a lot here that I don’t agree with. Maybe agree is the wrong word. There’s a lot here I don’t subscribe to. Some of the ways you choose to deal with your patients is . . . harsh. And I don’t think it necessarily benefits them to be treated like that. You lack compassion and, if I may say so, you’re only focussed on the patients you have that fit into your current field of study. I thought a psychiatrist’s job was to help heal vulnerable people. You don’t seem to have any inclination to do that.
What do you mean? I help people heal. I’ve helped hundreds, possibly thousands of people heal. More than you’ll ever help.
I’ve no doubt that when you began as a psychiatrist you helped people. But now, you’re all about the great dollar. You use electroconvulsive therapy and drugs more than you do any other sort of treatment. People can’t heal if you deliver electric shocks to their brain. It’s a sensitive organ. It’s not made to withstand the levels of ECT you employ. Frankly, Dr. Fenelli, I’m surprised that you haven’t killed anyone yet. And the drugs . . . you turn some of your patients into chemically-induced vegetables. That’s not helping. That’s destroying lives.
Well, if that’s what you think then I’d suggest that you find some career that doesn’t offend your sensibilities.
It’s not about offending my sensibilities, Dr. Fenelli. It’s about doing what’s right for your patients. Or have you forgotten that?
Some of these patients have a better life here, in Sandhills, than they would out there. I’ve given them a life. They don’t suffer with the indignities of their previous lives. They’re happy. They’re free from suffering.
I’d hardly call them happy, Dr. Fenelli. Many of them have no idea what day it is. Half of them are no longer able to talk, and those who can can’t string two coherent sentences together.
I expect you’ll be returning to your college and enrolling in something a little more . . . liberal then.
Not a chance, Dr. Fenelli. You’ve inspired me to be a better psychiatrist than you could ever be. I’m staying in this field, and I’m going to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people like these. And I’m going to find a way to do it that doesn’t turn their already bad lives to shit.
. . . To be continued . . .