Defining ‘Fine’

“We’re back” said my colleague from the afternoon shift.
“How did it go?” I enquired.
“Oh, I’ve hired a Michelin Man costume for the next charity walk and made an appointment for my hair to be tinted. I’m a really mad sort of person you know.”
“I was referring to the walk with Stuart.”
“Oh…right…. no problems. He was absolutely superb in town.”
I glanced at Stuart who was stood behind, and noticed that a large wet patch had formed around his crutch area, that his hands were shaking uncontrollably, and that saliva was dripping constantly from his mouth. Everything was relative in psychiatry, and I knew that my colleague was pleased because Stuart hadn’t attempted to run off, hadn’t become angry or agitated, hadn’t stolen anything, and hadn’t been incontinent of faeces in the shops. His term ‘brilliant’ still seemed a little extravagant, though, and it occurred to me how often we compared patients’ behaviour with other abnormal behaviours on the unit, rather than with standards in the outside world. This was not perhaps a great sign of community care success, where ‘integration’ with the outside world was the main guiding principle.

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