Normalising the Patient

Unfortunately, this was one of the many examples of modern culture completely undermining modern mental health policy. It was hard enough for the average person to keep up with the ever-changing catalogue of CD players, DVD’s, mini-disc players, and I-pods etc., but for many people with mental health problems, it was simply asking the impossible. They were invariably bamboozled by the instructions which accompanied these ‘must have’ gadgets, and in many cases could not master the basic controls even after scores of demonstrations and reminders. After a while, they would become understandably frustrated and appear in the office with fists full of cassette tape, jammed CD player drawers, crushed earphones and ferocious tempers, or they would give up the struggle entirely and use the staff as butlers every time they needed the machine turning on. Money, of course, was no object and it became an almost weekly occurrence for staff to replace terminally damaged equipment with the latest (and even more incomprehensible) hi-tech equivalents at high street shops.
It would have made more sense for us to simplify the situation as far as possible, rather than complicate it, so that the residents had a realistic chance of retaining their skills. Instead, those residents who had spent years typing on mechanical typewriters were suddenly given portable word-processors, which quickly baffled them and spent their lives being thrown into distant corners during fits of pique. The sensible solution, according to one enlightened key worker, was to upgrade the portable word processors, to laptops. “The package would be much more consumer friendly” he informed us in a voice synthesizer monotone. Like hell it would…….www,


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