Malice, intention, patience, and resource

In yesterday’s BMJ (subscription required) Dalrymple begins, “There was a time when doctors wrote their memoirs and the public bought them.” Of course, Dalrymple wrote his own memoirs, and hopefully more of the public will buy it now that it is being reissued. In the near future we will publish more excerpts of it, including one description of a female patient that resembles this one from yesterday’s column:
…Sutherland also worked for a short time in an asylum…“Mrs H…was a stout, elderly, white-haired lady with the staring eyes of mania, and she disliked me,” Sutherland recalls. She hid a stocking about her person, filled it with earth, stones, and nails that she found in the grounds, and then one day attacked Sutherland with it. “In her action,” writes Sutherland, not without a certain admiration, “there was malice, intention, patience and resource.”…
This anecdote took me back to the days when I first worked in prison. There was still a large square battery in existence called a PP9, and prisoners could buy it for their radios. Some, however, bought it for other purposes: they put it in a sock and attacked their enemies with it. “Could you see Smith, sir?” a prison officer would ask me. “He’s just been PP-nined.”
I was never PP-nined in the manner of Dr Sutherland, and the battery was withdrawn, at least from prison circulation. It was replaced briefly, as a weapon, by tins of mandarin oranges. “Could you see Smith, sir?” a prison officer would ask me. “He’s just been mandarinned.”

5 thoughts on “Malice, intention, patience, and resource

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *