IV-"Christmas Means Joyless Tension in Locked Ward" - Frank Sutherland - Nashville Tennessean

IV-"Christmas Means Joyless Tension in Locked Ward" - Frank Sutherland - Nashville Tennessean

by: Frank Sutherland | publication date: January 23, 1974 | Publication: The Nashville Tennessean | pages: 1, 4, 6

There was little joy to the world of Central State Psychiatric Hospital Christmas Day.  Tempers got shorter and the patients stopped talking with each other; most of us knew we would not be going home for Christmas. My Christmases have always been joyful celebrations with family and friends.  I never hope to know another time of sadness like Dec. 24-25, 1973.  I posed as a patient at Central State for 31 days, including Christmas, and I watched with interest the real patients around me.  As the day of "joy" approached, I watched their spirits diminish.  This was a time when most of my fellow patients felt their absolute isolation from the real world. About 80% of the patients in my building could not go home for Christmas. Of those who stayed, only a handful had visitors.  This angered me.  "Where in hell are their relatives?" I asked myself. Some members of the staff made attempts to brighten the holidays, but the rejoicing never occured with any intensity.

Sutherland describes Christmas in Central State Psychiatric Hospital, where he was posing as a patient for a month, in order to expose the living conditions for patients at the unaccredited mental institution