Monday, March 19, 2007

Invisible hospital staff

Before someone who is recently released from being institutionalized can be expected to make it in the real world, they first have to live for a short period of time in what is called the Trans House. The Trans House is a real house (an old Victorian house) with all the furninshings of a real home, along with its own grounds and garden, and a family dog as well.

Our Trans House is located on property owned by the hospital, and is several miles away from anything or anyone connected with the mainstream population. All the household chores are kept up, and the kitchen is well stocked, by the hospital staff. But the hospital staff must work swiftly and secretly in the night, and they are required to be essentially invisible to the patients who are "living" in the house. One patient at a time "lives" in the house, accompanied only by family members who are willing to live with the patient during this transition time (usually between 2 - 3 weeks).

The following is a brief snippet of conversation (recorded for medical and follow-up purposes) between Donna (38), a woman who suffered from full blown unipolar affective psychosis for the past fourteen months, and her husband Robert (41) who works as a civil engineer for the state of Massachusetts. Donna and Robert have been married for seven years. The conversation takes place in the living-room of the Trans House at 12:59pm while the couple relax together on the sofa:

You were going to say something, Donna. I know you were.

Do I have to tell you again? I said it already: will you please just let me think about it for a moment, because I can't think. I simply can't remember.

No, no, no, you don't have to think at all.

But I told you, I'm telling you, I have no idea at all what it was.

No, no, don't think about it at all, just tell me what it was, tell me what the object was, without thinking about it.

But I can't tell you, I simply can't tell you because I haven't yet been able to think of what the object was.

Okay, go ahead and think, think of what the object was that you loved more than anything else in the world before you met me.

Okay, okay, I thought of it. It's weird, but it's an object. The object that I loved more than anything else in the world before I met you was a, a, a telephone. The telephone's receiver really. The telphone receiver that was in my bedroom back at home when I lived with my parents. I always liked talking on the telephone in my bedroom back when I was at home.

I'll tell you what I think. I think that deep down inside, deep down inside your heart of hearts you are a very communicative person. That's it. You have a great ability to comminicate. You're not afraid to communicate. No matter what, and that's what I love about you.

But Robert, sometimes I didn't always answer the telephone. Sometimes I didn't want to pick up the telephone receiver and answer the telephone when it rang.


...please continue (here in the comments section) writing what you think would be the rest of the conversation.


Jesse Crockett said...


I took a long drive today, and recall thinking about how the use of the telephone affects our "real" interpersonal communication.

Anonymous said...

Who is this?

Who is this that you're calling me?

This is Jesse.

This is Kelly.

Jesse Crockett said...

I have 3200 rollover minutes. Call me, (816) 812-6808.

Say "Boo, I'm _________ ."

Matina L. Stamatakis said...

This is very interesting, but I have nothing. Maybe this conversation will be followed by lengthy silence as she thinks more about why she's loved the telephone so much (or, subconsciously, the desire for communication).

carrie said...

that's because you're afraid that the kind of communication that you want isn't possible for whatever reason... the other person has too much on their mind, they are angry with you but not saying so... etcetera.

infinitesimal said...

"My God Robert, I hope that nobody in this trans house is secretly recording us with the intention of posting our conversation onto a pink colored internet blog... why the very thought of which sends paranoid shivers down my spine and makes me want to curl into a ball. Do you recall where we left that roll of tinfoil Bob? i see there is a window that we missed..."

flic said...

After a lag of 14 seconds, enough time to rely a tape from a second recorder, the conversation between Robert and Donna continues recorded on tape:

But why would you not want to talk to a person on the telephone who wanted to talk with you? What would you be doing that was so important that you couldn't pick up the telephone?

I don't know what exactly I would be doing, Robert.

Even if the person kept calling and calling and calling you? You still wouldn't answer the telephone? You wouldn't want to find out what the person had to say to you?

No, I wouldn't. Not if they kept on calling me back, Robert. Maybe no matter what they had to say it wouldn't be important to me.

But how could you know what the person had to say if you didn't hear what the person had to say?

I don't think you always have to hear what a person has to say in order to know what the person is going to say. Sometimes you just know what a person is going to say, without the person saying it. ...

officework said...

Would make a great reality tv show.

How I Died Today said...

That's okay. I'm sure your mother will call back to judge you harshly at a later date.

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