St. Joseph’s Psych Services: About Eddie (Part II)

            Most psychiatric staff workers are female.  It is a woman’s way to try to appease this man-mountain.  He comes lumbering at you; you keep telling him no, and he keeps coming.  The usual female reaction is to try to make it seem as if they hadn’t tried to stop him, as if it is all right for him to keep coming.  At a primitive, primordial level, as this huge male closes on her, what a woman sees is rape.  You do not try to confront a rapist who is four times your size.  You acquiesce to whatever small demands he makes in order to protect yourself from the big demand.  Eddie cannot be stopped verbally, and no woman can stop him physically.

            One male staff member, Michael, is Eddie’s height, but half his weight.  Michael laughs derisively at the problem of Eddie, saying, “I picked him up and threw him out of the nurse’s station once myself.”  A man can; few do.  Al has the same derisive attitude about Eddie.

            Al is a patient who lists the prisons where he has done hard time, and notes that he and the Son of Sam had the same therapist.  Al, not surprisingly, suffers from an aggression disorder.  He takes an elephant-sized dose of Thorazine—900 mg. at a pop.  He explains that he has “OC” after his name—Organized Crime—which means that if he gets busted for anything else, he will automatically get sent up for more hard time.

            Al has a solution for Eddie:  prison with the lifers.  Men doing ninety years to life in prison care about very little—but they do care about keeping their territory tidy.  They would not put up with Eddie’s bad manners.  It is common for the prison warden to put ill-behaved youngsters into cells with older men who can teach them proper behavior.  Eddie, Al notes with annoyance, is nothing, not a threat at all.

            To men—who dare to stand up to him—Eddie is not a threat, but most men do not stand up to Eddie; they placate him.  To women, Eddie is a threat.  He repeatedly harasses women when no staff are present.

            On Sunday, he got me.  On Monday, he got Tam, then Cindy.  All three times, he harassed us when no staff members were present.  When we, the women, cried out then the staff punished us.  All three of us, at three different times, were heard to cry, “But I didn’t do anything!  It’s not my fault!”  Do you know what it feels like to be innocent, and punished instead of protected?  I knew a man who got sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  He went crazy.

             Eddie has learned only one thing:  he’s learned how to manipulate the system so that he goes into psychiatric care instead of prison.  He is not six years old; he is a man.  When is the system going to protect the innocent?  Eddie has no capacity for insight; only strict behavior management over a long period of time will make him a person who safely can remain in society.  He does not have a psychiatric illness; he has a behavior problem.  When is the staff going to do its job and stay on the floor where the action is?  When are the cowards who work at CPEP going to deal with the problem?

The adolescent bull elephant keeps harassing the rhinos.  He’s going to do it until he kills someone.  When is the system going to get the guts to deal with it?  Send him to prison.  He’s not sick.  He’s a bully who is manipulating the system.


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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