ENERGY BLOCKAGE REMOVAL
|2005 AND 2006|
THE MASK OF SANITY
Section 2: The Material
Part 1: The disorder in full clinical manifestations
My prolonged acquaintance with our next subject began on the occasion of his
return for a fourth period of hospitalization. He was accompanied by the sheriff who
had brought him from jail in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was affable and courteous,
entirely rational in his conversation. Though rather carelessly dressed, he made an
imposing figure of a man; he was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighed 210 pounds, had red hair,
blue eyes, a quick, humorous glance, and a disarming smile. Though 45 years of age, he
appeared to be in the early thirties. His body retained good athletic lines, and he sat or
stood with an easy poise.
Jack gave no impression of evasiveness but, on the contrary, seemed rich in
understanding and serious in his desire to be helpful. He admitted that he had been a
periodic drinker for many years, stating that he worried about his life and drank to
forget; he described fleeting alcoholic hallucinations which he said he had occasionally
experienced. "I once thought there was a 6-foot porpoise in bed with me all night. I
have seen a little man no bigger than your finger standing at the window talking to me.
One night cats came with heads like lions, also lions with heads like cats." He was
perfectly aware that these manifestations were unreal and attributed them to the effects
of alcohol, expressing amusement at their absurdity.
As a matter of fact, it is doubtful if these hallucinatory experiences were real.
After knowing him better, it seemed likely to me that he had made up these stories,
thinking they would help him gain admittance to the hospital. Any difficulties aside
from that of merely drinking excessively he denied, emphatically but good humoredly
dismissing all such questions as inapplicable to someone like himself.
He is a man from an urban community, of a family, though not particularly
distinguished or wealthy, generally regarded as gentlefolk. The details of his childhood
are not known except from his own account. He got
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along satisfactorily in his studies, completed high school, and decided not to go to
college but began to work. He first obtained a minor position in a bookstore, changed
to various other clerical employments, and then took up engineering, He had begun to
drink a little when 17 years of age but, according to his own report, did not go on
serious sprees until in his early twenties.
Although Jack changed about rapidly and lost many positions, he apparently
found it rather easy to succeed, once earning a large income as assistant city engineer.
Evidently he had at this stage already begun to cause trouble. His relatives, most of
whom had much less income than the patient, were called upon frequently to pay him
out of debt, to exert influence on his employers, and occasionally to get him out of jail.
His work was sporadic and frequently interrupted by protracted bouts of drinking or by
sudden trips to other towns during which he lost large sums gambling, ran up debts
buying things for which he had little use, borrowed heavily from old friends, now and
then forged or otherwise defrauded, and often fell into the hands of the police. His
confident, reassuring manner and his easy way with people went far to make up for his
lack of reliability or any serious, sustained interest in his work.
His relations with women have always been casual. He had frequent sexual
experiences but failed to develop any lasting attachment. He contracted syphilis in the
early twenties, received intensive treatment, and was apparently cured. During the war
he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and had the misfortune to contract gonorrhea.
Though genial, talkative, and a splendid mixer when sober, he did not choose to
do his drinking in convivial surroundings. Whether he started alone or with others, he
would on occasions continue to drink day after day, keeping himself in a sodden,
maudlin, or highly irritable state, more or less barricaded in some cheap hotel room or
brothel until succored by his friends or relatives or arrested as a nuisance by the police.
Sometimes, after being primed with a few drinks, he would hire a Negro boy to drive
him out into the country where, having brought along a supply of raw corn whiskey, he
would alternately drink in sullen fits or lie snoring and semistuporous among the weeds.
His stock being at last exhausted, the boy would faithfully bring him into town and
throw him on the mercy of hard-taxed friends or relatives.
One can but imagine the young Negro as he would sit hour after hour,
sometimes day after day, in solemn attendance on his white gentleman, watching the
latter crash stumbling about the bushes, lie semicomatose, breathing stertorously in the
underbrush, or come lurching again up to the automobile, muttering a demand for more
liquor. It is easy to imagine the naive face remotely amused but never entirely free from
awe and wonder
THE MATERIAL 123
as he listens to his temporary employer blubbering and raving in meaningless syllables
of despair or waking echoes from lonely pinelands with his inane curses. What can he
make of this nonsensical melodrama in which he is called on to play his inconspicuous
but necessary part? He has been taught that the white man is boss and that his ways are
marked out by wisdom. The white man has money and influential friends and seems to
be free from penalty for his folly. Yet this young and inexperienced Negro is
humorous. Though mystified as we all are by these happenings, he cannot but smile as
he contemplates the ways of this world.
As years went on, this man's conduct became worse. No matter how hard Jack's
relatives worked to obtain positions for him, he lost them within a week or ten days,
sometimes through drinking, sometimes through simple, gross neglect without the
benefit of drink. Other jobs he lost by haughtily dressing down an employer, by
overcharging customers and pocketing the gain, by engaging in petty rackets and illegal
schemes to defraud, or by various additional misdemeanors and delinquencies.
He was sent several times to take whiskey cures at various private sanitoriums
and was also hospitalized for short periods in psychiatric institutions and once at a state
mental hospital. He was always found "sane and competent" and discharged after a
In time he became an all but unbearable burden on the other members of his
family. The oldest brother, vice-president of a local bank, another brother successful in
business, a married sister in good circumstances, and another sister unmarried but
financially independent and prominent in club work all strove to their utmost to help
him. The task of supporting him was but a small part of their problem. If kept in the
house by any of his family, he persisted in his overbearing, riotous ways, proved
unmanageable, and disorganized the entire household. Sometimes he took silver or
other valuable objects belonging to a sister or a brother and pawned or sold them. He
seemed unable to feel that there was need to make restitution. If he boarded outside, he
shortly fell into the hands of the police, usually after incurring debts and behaving in
such a way as to involve all concerned with him in great embarrassment and difficulty.
During observation at the hospital he was always alert and polite, free from any
suggestion of delusions or hallucinations. He impressed his examiners as being very
open and frank. He admitted that he had never realized the seriousness of his problems
until recently. He took a lively interest in his surroundings, showed excellent reasoning
power at all times, and seemed eager to take advantage of his treatment in the hospital
in order to gain a fresh outlook with the earnest intention of leading a happier and more
successful life in the future. His memory was excellent; he was nearly always in
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good spirits, energetic, affable, and fond of company. The Wassermann blood test was
negative, as were spinal fluid Wassermann and colloidal gold tests. Neurologic and
psychiatric examinations were entirely negative. The medical staff, after six weeks of
study, considered him sane and competent, granted him parole of the grounds, and
recommended discharge after a short time.
Jack remained on parole for about two months without getting into serious
difficulty. His family, citing his long record of maladjustment, asked that lie be kept in
the hospital until the staff was "sure he had become normal." He began at this stage to
grow impatient about leaving, insisting that he was now able to go out and live a
satisfactory life and that there was no reason for him to be kept longer. Indeed, on the
basis of his appearance then one would have been at a loss to find even the flimsiest
excuse for holding him.
After considerable correspondence his relatives agreed to his returning home. In
the meantime, they had been busy removing obstacles that might lie in the way of his
readjustment. A good position had been found, one offering easy hours, congenial
work, an excellent salary, and opportunity for advancement. Attractive quarters were
being prepared where he could live under the super-vision of his relatives until he got
established. His brothers and sisters all showed themselves not only eager to help him
but extraordinarily aware of subtle subjective difficulties that lay ahead and always
tactful to spare him the humiliation that one might think inevitable in his situation.
They were as anxious not to embarrass him and to avoid any appearance of meddling as
to give encouragement and support. His future seemed certainly to offer a maximum of
security against all the factors that lead men to fail.
These encouraging developments were explained to the patient. He admitted
himself pleased but his manner did not imply feelings proportionate to his good fortune.
In fact, he seemed to take things somewhat as a matter of course. His restless
impatience to go out at once was not assuaged by preparations for him to leave within
seventy-two hours. The money to pay for his transportation had already been received
and he knew this. He pressed his demand to leave at once although he knew that the
brief delay was requested by his relatives in order to prepare things to his own
advantage. On being told that he could not leave immediately, he insisted on having a
pass to go into town for a few hours, stating that he had to buy a hat, some shoes, and a
few other things before going home.
A man considered sane and plainly of superior intelligence could scarcely seem to
be in danger of doing anything at this stage of events to interfere with the plans devised
for his rehabilitation. His physician, nevertheless
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had a long talk with him, reviewing his history, trying to exert a helpful influence, to
focus his attention on possible dangers, and to review with him his plans and
Superficially Jack did not appear to need help. Laughing, he stated that he would
scarcely be such a fool as to throw away the freedom that now awaited him after all
these months of unhappy confinement. He knew perfectly well why it had been
necessary for him to come to the hospital. He said he realized clearly that if he took a
drink his family would not take him back, that it would be necessary for him to begin all
over again the weary, distasteful life on closed wards among "insane" men. With quick
reassurances he stated that he did not even feel an inclination to drink but admitted that
he knew, from his former experiences, if he took even one he might take too much. He
had learned his lesson, he said, smiling confidently. The impression of excellent insight,
of a steadfast determination to avoid any setback in his new career, was perfect-a little
too perfect perhaps. His own confidence in himself was too quick, too easy, and too
sure. He gave all the right answers with a glibness that, had he not been so polite, might
have suggested a slight impatience. He used all the words that a man would use who
understood and appreciated the miserable folly that lay behind him and meant to have
done with it.
He was given a pass and left the hospital smiling, well dressed, his head high with
confidence, his firm promise to return after a few hours given in ringing tones of
conviction. Nothing further was heard from him until the next morning when, behind
bars at the police barracks, he regained his wits sufficiently to identify himself. A
policeman on night rounds, attracted by his hoarse groans, had come upon him
floundering among rubbish and weeds in the mire of a canal bank in a squalid
neighborhood. Though blubbering and abusive, he offered no definite resistance and
was led off in slovenly shame, his new clothes torn by brambles, tin cans, and broken
glass and stained with mud and urine.
He was returned to the hospital and after sobering up could give no plausible
explanation for his conduct. He did not appear to feel that one was needed. He
showed no indication of blaming himself and far less disappointment than one would
have expected. His tendency now was to hold others responsible for his failure. He
insisted that he had only taken a little beer and explained that he took it because the
doctor in charge of his case had promised to send him home but failed to do so.
This disheartening escapade naturally interrupted the plans for his going home
and he was put back on a closed ward. His family, however, soon decided to try him
again and within two weeks asked for his release, stating that the position for him was
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In order to prevent any further complications, the patient was put on the train by
an attendant. He arrived at home with a pungent odor of cheap whiskey on his breath
and strongly under the influence of alcohol but still able to walk. For several weeks his
family bullied themselves to keep him sober, at work, and away from crap games, front
expeditions to sell mill workers nonexistent insurance, and glib attempts to float loans
with his father's business associates. He ignored their efforts.
Among many other unacceptable items of conduct are recorded these: driving off
in his brother's car and not returning it for three days, becoming involved in a scheme
to dispose of stolen goods, and participating in an illegal game of chance known as "the
numbers," by which many Negroes were defrauded of small sums. From time to time
Jack would drink himself into the familiar state of maudlin stupefaction and lie around
disheveled, inert, and apparently quite miserable.
On being returned to the hospital he dismissed his failure with nonchalance,
smiled cavalierly, and admitted, "I just fell off the wagon." This was his attitude long
after all effects of intoxication had subsided.
He remained on a closed ward for a month, never showing the slightest
indication of any recognized mental disorder, He was at this period somewhat faultfinding
and wanted many small attentions. This was, however, entirely in keeping with
his natural dissatisfaction with confinement. While going out with a group to the dining
hall one evening, he escaped. Instead of making any serious or intelligent effort to get
beyond reach of the hospital, he went to a disreputable roadhouse nearby and promptly
became so obstreperously vocal and conspicuously offensive that he was located and
brought back to the hospital by attendants.
After being successfully kept on a closed ward for six more weeks, he again
escaped by opening a door with a key he had stolen from an attendant. Two days later
he was taken up by the sheriff in a nearby village, dirty, disheveled, and miserable, after
an inane spree.
He was now placed on a closely supervised ward to prevent him from escaping
again and repeating these adventures. Here he was surrounded by extremely psychotic
patients, many of whom were disturbed most of the time, babbling unintelligible
nonsense and waving at the empty air, and all of whom he of course found vividly
unsuitable as company. Obviously he did not belong in such surroundings, but it was
difficult to find any other way to keep him in the hospital. After several weeks, in order
to make his situation a little less unpleasant, he was allowed to go out on the lawn in
front of the ward for short periods. His physician hoped that his recent unhappy
experience might have taught him to handle himself a little more judiciously. This
proved, however, to be false, for he again violated his
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parole by leaving the hospital and indulging in all sorts of nonsensical behavior typical
of that already mentioned. This led him promptly into the hands of the police.
His subsequent history is the same. Each time he is confined on a closed ward
among delusional, hallucinated patients, or those deteriorated to a "vegetative" level of
existence, his physician, struck with the incongruity, hopes that he will be able to take
more responsibility upon himself and, encouraged by his completely rational external
aspect and conversation, not to speak of his reassuring promises to abide by the rules,
gives him a little freedom. Sometimes he gets along well for a few weeks, perhaps for a
month or more, but always he ends up throwing away what has been gained, violating
his parole, and soon becoming involved in activities that demand the loss of his liberty.
Every possible effort is made to keep him in pleasant surroundings and on wards
where patients are in relatively good mental condition, but he makes this difficult by his
repeated violation of all agreements.
When last heard from he was, after a long period of confinement, out again on
parole and for several weeks had conformed to rules. He is energetic, quick witted,
alert, and jovial. No one talking with him would ever think that it had been necessary to
keep him on closed wards among psychotic people.
How long Jack will last in this status no one can say. I have little hope that it will
be long and no hope at all that he will be able to leave the hospital and lead a normal life
Section 2, Part 1