Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Age of U-Turns | TIME

A regular commentista remarked recently of the changing of my mind. The gentleman from Jacksonville and I share something in common. We have both worked with the mentally ill on locked psychiatric units. At one time we worked together. He is the best I have ever seen doing that job. I'd follow him into any room, down any hallway, in which violence loomed. He knew what to say and what not to say. He knew what tone of voice was right.

On the unit where we worked together once, I offered a patient what we called a " conditional voluntary " paper to sign. His signature would indicate that he agreed with us staff: That he was crazy enough to be hospitalized, kept behind thick doors that were locked. It was my job to offer him this paper to sign. That did not mean I agreed he was crazy. I thought he was troubled. I thought he was overwhelmed. I thought his history made it easy for others to determine that his recent behavior fit into a pattern. I wasn't so sure. But again, it was my job to give him the chance to " sign in. "

He chose not to. I said, " OK. But if you change your mind, you know where to find me. "

And he said:

" I'm not going to change my mind; I like the one I have. "

I'll never forget that....

The Age of U-Turns TIME

1 comment:

Terry #3 said...

I am sure the man from Jacksonville appreciates the unsolicited compliment. I think he may be misty-eyed as one who never expected to hear this until his memorial service when it would really have fallen on deaf ears.