The Psycho staff….

Aside from the potential dangers and somewhat shameful entertainment value, a certain type of healthcare professional seems to be attracted to this field. Tragically, its rarely due to a genuine fascination with human behavior, or a desire to help your fellow man. As much as it is for the patients, for staff, a psychiatric unit ends up being a place to hide.

This can occur for many reasons, some as simple as being grossly inept at any other aspect of healthcare. Other reasons tend to stem from the staff themselves being as mentally ill as the patients they care for. Do to the stigma and fear surrounding mental health patients, working on this kind of unit can be the equivalent of living on a desert island.

Another theory, and my personal favorite, is that “crazy” is contagious. If one works in this environment long enough, they just may lose their own grip on reality. Perhaps the constant bombardment of irrational thoughts and perceptions eventually start to penetrate. Some of the more convincing delusional and antisocial patients may start to make sense after spending 8 to 12 of your waking hours with them on a daily basis. Then you can either take a vacation, make an adjustment in your career trajectory, or get a room right next to your new mentor.

Perhaps this is how the more interesting psychiatric patients are born. We tend to wonder “what happened” whenever that patient being rolled in 4 point restraints has an interesting back story. The former college professor, lawyer, or school nurse that is now rambling incoherently and has been deemed unfit for society by the powers that be. What happened? Was it an unimaginable series of stressful or even tragic events? Maybe a genetic predisposition toward mental illness, or did a crazy person sneeze near them on a crowded elevator? Either way, psychiatric patients love to break the mold and emerge from all walks of life. What makes me love them is their ability to throw curve balls at any established theory, at any given time.

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Back on the Psych unit….

So you’ve gotten past the door….

A psychiatric patient’s reaction to a new person on the unit varies wildly…. Are you a superhero doctor here to rescue them, or a demon that has come to drag them to hell? Perhaps you appear to be Elvis Presley, or their mother. Either way, there are endless possibilities as to how you will be received, but in general, fear not. Contrary to popular belief, it is unlikely that as a visitor any harm will come to you at the hand of a psychiatric patient.

The regular staff however, plays a different role and suffers different consequences. They have the privilege of playing a more permanent role in the life of a psychologically disturbed patient. That can be good or bad, depending on how successfully, and carefully that role is played. Are they stuck being the superhero doctor, or the demon (or Elvis). Either way, a skilled professional should be able to manipulate that appearance into something therapeutic. With the hope of eventually shifting that patient’s perception back to a more reasonable place. And for the nonprofessional, this can be a hilarious opportunity to entertain yourself for a 12 hour shift.

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Did you know….

* One in every 1000 babies is born with a tooth.    

* A person will die from lack of sleep sooner than they will from starvation, which usually takes a few weeks.    

* Humans have 46 chromosomes, peas have 14 and crayfish have 200.    

* Each person sheds 22 kilograms of skin in his or her lifetime.   

* More germs are transferred shaking hands than kissing. (YAY for kissing! LOL)    

* A fetus only acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.     

* We share 98.4% of our DNA with a chimp – and 70% with a slug.    

* Human fetuses react to loud rock music by kicking. (ROCK ON kids!!!)   

 * At just 12 weeks the human fetus can scowl and squint.

Source: The People’s Almanac 2, compiled by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace.

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