Friday, May 19, 2017

William Myrl; Letters To No One (77)

Dear No One,

We had group today, I'm sure I've mentioned it before. If I haven't, its the only group of it's kind in Virginia, and it exists solely because of our workaholic psychiatrist. There's usually about ten of us in the group. We come together to gripe about medications, prison, and the decline of civility in the west. He leads the conversation by asking us questions, but there is no set plan or lesson. It is meant to be organic. He told us a story that had been shared with him in the early nineties, when he took his position at Augusta. 

The institution had been through five or six psychiatrists in as many years. One doctor interviewed and told the warden that he couldn't work there unless he had a CO with him whenever he was with inmates. The warden said they couldn't do that, they didn't have people to spare,and for the doctor it was a deal breaker. The warden convinced him to take a tour of the facility anyway and they eventually came to the room we occupied for our group. It was different then, there had been a grating bisecting the room, with the smaller section storing things inmates weren't to touch, and an ophthalmologists chair. The doctor had asked to see the area, and told the warden that is where he wanted to take his appointments. The warden agreed.

The CO who had shared this story with our Psychiatrist said what followed was some of the worst behavior he had ever seen. They had cursed the doctor, threatened him, grabbed the grating and shaken it. He came three times, and they were looking for another practitioner.

Our psychiatrist said he knew the man this had happened to, that he had gone to an excellent school and that he was a smart doctor, that he cared, and had helped many people. But he left the prison with the conviction that he had been right all along, these prisoners were animals and he had been right to take precautions. He learned the wrong lesson.
Our psychiatrist stood and pointed to the bolts in the wall where the grating had once been.

I haven't been keeping up with you at all. I won't lie and say it's going to get better.

Hearts and Stars
William Myrl
Letters to No One

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