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My Experience of Hospital

by Patrick Kenny

My experience of Lunatic Hospital was brutal, and because of this I got a lot out of it. The staff had to threaten me before I would do anything! It proved to me that I could go outside for a month. It took away any fear of prison and asylum that I had. It gave me friends and stories.

I learned to be cared for. It gave me confidence as it showed me how resilient and powerful I am. It taught me to analyse myself as well as others. It let me have contact with medical professionals. I gained a change of environment and met unusual people. I learnt what my voice sounds like and that cramped conditions do not phase me. I discovered that aggression is unnecessary. It led to me eating a wider variety of foods. It encouraged me to ask female doctors out. It involved me sleeping in a secure building. It allowed me to feel like Iggy Pop, made me qualified to join societies, ended my avoidance of psychology and helped me think more clearly.

Finally, it opened the door to assistance from the social services. The fact that my four weeks were very hard meant that I became stronger.

There were drawbacks, however. Its authoritarian nature, the habit of social workers and other employees of the Trust not giving me enough information and then talking to me as if I were a liar, halfwit or criminal angered me. My therapy could have been enhanced by more groupwork and activities. I might have also grown more if "my betters" had known more about my condition ("Asperger's Syndrome") and had helped me to develop academically. The cinematic unbelievability of what was done to me made me think that it could never be equalled and some of the keepers treated me as a number.

In a sense it was a complete waste of time as they told me nothing that I did not know already. Now that I am aware of my rights it could not happen again. I hope that this sojourn has been as interesting for readers as Emma Harding's talk at the Oxford conference. How do you think mental health services should be reformed?

Patrick Kenny, August 02