Saturday, 7 February 2009

Past and Present

I've been plodding on with the depressing task of telling people that my book publication date has been put back to August. I'm still receiving letters, mainly from those who got my flyer with their Christmas card, telling me they'll buy my book in February. I do hope they'll still be interested in it by August.

More time has caused me to do more tinkering with the manuscript. I've just sent my publisher what I now think (hope) are the final editing changes. The problem with editing is that it could go on for ever. But at some stage we have to say, STOP! Otherwise, we risk spoiling, instead of improving, our work. It's difficult sometimes knowing just when to stop.

I've been speaking to Mark today, a local photographer and historian, who set up a website detailing the history of the hospital where I was a patient (High Royds, formerly the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum). Interest in his website has snowballed, attracting a quarter of a million picture hits from all over the world. It's a massive site, full of fascinating details for anyone interested in the history of psychiatry, architecture, and/or human interest stories. It is well worth taking a look at:

What memories the site brings back. I found Derek Hutchinson's story of undergoing horrendous experimental brain surgery. I remember he was a patient, a friendly young man, at the day hospital the same time as I was there in the early-seventies. His operation took place shortly after I left. It reminds me of how I'm one of the lucky ones.

I must hasten to add that my book isn't all misery. There's a lot of humour in it, too. Even in such a place as that institution, there were uplifting incidents and humour. I've tried to be balanced and fair to staff and patients. But I'm glad these institutions have closed down. I'm also glad that many people are working to bring about a change in attitudes rather than just a change from one setting to another.

1 comment:

Jean said...

Hello Anonymous,
I'm speaking out against a rigid application of the medical model in psychiatry. I'm not saying a medical framework is always destructive. Some people do find medication, and an understanding of their problems in terms of a diagnosis, helpful. But I, and many others, learnt to our cost how damaging a narrow medical perspective can be.