Monday, August 10, 2020


I have a client at Elgin Mental Health Center who really brings out the irony of pretending that a plantation is a hospital. Gus is a royal pain in the posterior of the drivers, overseers and masters. He’s often a royal pain for me, too, because he manages to broadcast a truly obnoxious level of complexity, even in simple situations. It’s almost miraculous, I’m not sure how he does it.

There have been several monthly staffings I attended when Tom Zubik became intensely frustrated by Gus’ long monologues or litanies of complaints about myriad details of his experience as a mental “patient”. Tom is a decent guy in a challenging (to say the least!) job. I’ve frequently felt sympathy for him, but that’s limited by my suspicion that he actually believes Elgin Mental Health Center is a hospital in the sense of an institution which intends to help people. Any such belief is self-deception, born of stupidity, gradually accumulated over many years of bad acts and lies.

This morning nice and early, Gus called me with the announcement that, “We have another serious issue.” 

This is the usual opening statement for about 80% of all phone calls from Gus. It’s almost as predictable as the opening statement for about 95% of all phone calls from MarcI Webber: “I just have a quick question for you.” 

Gus normally proceeds to tell me long narratives full of tiny details of dubious significance under which the “serious issue” he wants to tell me about is entirely buried; and Marci normally proceeds to keep me on the phone for as long as she possibly can, asking an unlimited number of questions to which she either already knows the answer, or which she knows nobody can answer. Man-oh-man, maybe my job is as tough as Tom Zubik’s!

Anyway, this morning Gus was telling me that he has this pain and that pain, and this medical problem and that medical problem, this need for medicine and that need for medicine, this disagreement with the doctors and that disagreement with the doctors.... I was trying to listen and keep track, when Gus said something about Dr. Shaikis threatening to discontinue his ibuprofen. Because Gus has so many pains and medical problems, this was looking like a very serious issue, indeed.

Dr. Shaikis is the current M.D. who deals with the real medical issues (as opposed to psychiatric stuff) on the unit where Gus is held. I don’t know him at all, I even had to ask Gus how to spell his name. 

I tried to get any clarification about why Dr. Shaikis would discontinue ibuprofen. Theoretically there could be various medical reasons. Maybe Gus takes more of it than he’s supposed to, maybe his blood is too thin, maybe some other analgesic is judged to be better in the circumstances. (I’m not a doctor, my understanding of this is entirely that of a layman.) But I was always under the impression that ibuprofen is not a very dangerous drug, especially compared to other so-called “treatments” (e.g., neuroleptics and ECT) that Gus has been prescribed during his years on the plantation.

Well, as it turns out, I’m pretty sure Dr. Shaikis is simply trying to punish Gus for being such a royal nuisance. That’s the only way it makes sense, and I can understand that very well. Shaikis has recently denied Gus several other therapeutic items that he had previously been used to, including a posturepedic cushion and a list of other things which I can’t remember. (This is according to Gus, so of course it’s a list; he probably maintains a whole spread sheet about it.)

Once again, the concept of a hospital does not work or enable any prediction of a doctor’s motive to punish his patient. That’s not what anyone would expect. EMHC cannot be understood as a hospital.

But on a plantation, slaves are routinely punished. That makes sense!

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